WASHINGTON (WDAM) — The University of Southern Mississippi will receive more than $13.5 million in the first round of federal emergency relief, with at least half earmarked for cash grants to students affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The funding, which is to be distributed immediately, was part of Mississippi’s initial $149 million allocation provided through the recently-passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act.
United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the distribution Friday. Colleges and universities will receive allocations and guidance through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund in the coming weeks.
Both public and private institutions at both the senior and junior college levels were eligible for the funding.
William Carey University will receive $2.3 million-plus. Pearl River Community College was allocated nearly $4.4 million and Jones College $3.8 million. Southeastern Baptist College will receive $73,845.
Mississippi State University received the largest allocation at $17.8 million, followed by the University of Mississippi at $16.6 million.
In addition to providing student grants, schools will be able to use the HEERF funds to cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.
More than $6 billion in first-round funding was made available Friday to colleges and universities nationwide through the CARES Act that President Donald Trump signed into law two weeks ago.
“What's best for students is at the center of every decision we make," DeVos said. "That's why we prioritized getting funding out the door quickly to college students who need it most. We don't want unmet financial needs due to the coronavirus to derail their learning."
Students can use the cash grants for expenses “related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care and childcare,” the announcement read.
In order to access the funds, the federal DOE must receive signed certification from the higher education institution. The college or university will then determine which students will receive the cash grants.
School allocations were determined by a CARES Act formula weighted significantly by the number of full-time students who are Pell Grant-eligible. The formula also took into consideration the total population of the school and the number of students who were enrolled full-time before the coronavirus outbreak.
The funding allocations announced Friday was the first part of the nearly $31 billion Congress allocated to the Department of Education to distribute to students, K-12 schools and higher education institutions under the CARES Act.
Additional rounds of funding will be made “as quickly as possible,” according to Friday’s announcement.