How is the Federal government helping CSU respond to the pandemic?

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Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Federal grants were provided to Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) through legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, 2020 (CARES); the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARP).


The federal Department of Education oversees allocation and administration of the money and makes grants to IHEs through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant program. The chart Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grants by Source displays the total grants allocated by the federal Department of Education to 23 CSU campuses. Click the chart for additional information.


Grants of over $3 billion were made to 23 CSU campuses to support students by providing additional financial aid; reimbursements for lost operating revenue allowing campuses to continue to employ faculty and staff; personal protective equipment to provide safe learning and working environments; technology to expand and support on-line and hybrid instruction; modifications to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment to help protect against infection; and reimbursements for other costs resulting from the pandemic.


The chart Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grants by Campus displays amounts awarded to each CSU campus by the federal Department of Education.


These grants are provided as reimbursement for eligible costs incurred after claims are submitted to the Department of Education. Click the chart to display grants made to all 23 CSU campuses.


The Department of Education awarded grants to Institutions of Higher Education, including the 23 CSU campuses, based on several allocation factors, which are summarized in the section Federal Legislation.


As of September 26, 2022, campus expenditures of over $2.8 billion are eligible for reimbursement from Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants for expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.


The chart Higher Education Emergency Relief Expenses by Account displays expenditures grouped by account group.


Direct aid to students of over $1.3 billion to-date represents nearly 48% of all HEERF expenses. Reimbursements for lost revenues total over $790 million representing nearly 28% of the total. The remaining 24% of expenses are distributed among other categories including information technology, salaries and benefits, supplies and services, and other.


Expenditures are reported quarterly to the Department of Education and published on campus websites.


Campus Higher Education Emergency Relief expenses range from a low of nearly $5 million at the California State University Maritime Academy to a high of over $263 million at California State University, Northridge. The range of expenses is driven by the size of the campus and the grants provided by the Department of Education to the 23 CSU campuses.


Figures reported in the chart Higher Education Emergency Relief Expenses by Campus summarize expenses by campus and account group through September 26, 2022.


FEMA Public Assistance Program

Under the March 13, 2020, COVID-19 nationwide emergency declaration and subsequent major disaster declarations for COVID-19, CSU campuses are eligible to apply for assistance under the FEMA interim policy Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance. The chart FEMA Reimbursement Claims Status displays the status of the total claims submitted by CSU campuses to FEMA for consideration.


Campuses may request reimbursement for eligible costs incurred to purchase and distribute face masks and other personal protective equipment; clean and disinfect facilities exceeding regularly budgeted costs; conduct COVID-19 diagnostic testing, screening and temperature scanning; purchase and distribute temperature measuring devices and screening equipment; acquire and install temporary physical barriers and signage to support social distancing; and purchase and store personal protective equipment and other supplies based on projected needs for the safe opening and operation of the facility.


Fourteen campuses submitted thirty-two claims to FEMA for over $10.6 million. Of the claims submitted, one has been approved and five have been rejected. The remaining twenty-six claims are pending determination by FEMA. The pending claims total over $9.8 million.


Most FEMA Claims are Pending Determination

Across the fourteen campuses that submitted FEMA claims, amounts submitted to FEMA for reimbursement vary from a low at CSU Los Angeles of over $99,000 to a high at San Diego State of over $4.4 million.


The chart FEMA Reimbursement by Campus displays the amounts submitted and current status of the claims. Of the thirty-two claims submitted, one claim has been approved by FEMA, which was submitted by CSU East Bay for $31,760.


Twenty-six FEMA claims totaling over $9.8 million are pending determination by FEMA and campuses have responded to multiple requests for additional information to help support the requests.


FEMA Claims Await Determination

Campuses have awaited decisions by FEMA on thirty-two claims for an average of 466 days.


The chart FEMA Reimbursement Claims Duration displays for each claim the number of days between the original submission date and the earlier of the date of approval or September 26, 2022.


The relatively long duration of the FEMA claims process is due to the complex and evolving requirements of the program described in the FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide. A helpful summary of the grant process is provided by FEMA at the Public Assistance Program Overview site.


Federal Legislation

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, 2020 (CARES)

CARES Allocation Methodology

The federal Department of Education allocations to Instutions of Higher Education (IHEs) were calculated based on two formula factors:


(1) 75% of the funds were awarded to

IHEs based on each IHE’s share of full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of Pell Grant recipients who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency, relative to the total FTE enrollment of such individuals in all IHEs; and


(2) 25% of the funds were awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s share of FTE enrollment of students who were not Pell Grant recipients and who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency, relative to the total FTE enrollment of such individuals in all IHEs.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA)

CRRSAA Allocation Methodology

The federal Department of Education allocations to Instutions of Higher Education (IHEs) were calculated based on three formula factors:


(1) 75% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total (i.e., headcount) enrollment and full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment;


(2) 23% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of students who were not Federal Pell Grant recipients and who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total enrollment and FTE enrollment; and


(3) 2% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients who were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total enrollment and FTE enrollment

American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARP)

ARP Allocation Methodology

The federal Department of Education allocations to Instutions of Higher Education (IHEs) were calculated based on three formula factors:


(1) 75% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total (i.e., headcount) enrollment and full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment;


(2) 23% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of students who were not Federal Pell Grant recipients and who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total enrollment and FTE enrollment; and


(3) 2% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients who were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total enrollment and FTE enrollment.

For additional information about the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) publishes a helpful chart comparing provisions of CARES, CRRSAA, and ARP.