How Much Money Each College Can Receive From the CARES Act

The U.S. Department of Education building is pictured in Washington on April 2, 2020.

The spreadsheet at this link provides data on the amount of funding that each U.S. higher education institution can receive from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and provided colleges with the most direct federal funds in a single year since the Great Recession. Nevertheless, additional funding is needed, as an issue brief from the Center for American Progress recently detailed.

This spreadsheet combines data on the roughly $12.5 billion awarded to institutions via the formula created by Congress in the CARES Act with the more than $1 billion awarded to minority-serving institutions and low-resourced colleges. The spreadsheet also combines allocation data reported by the Department of Education with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the Federal Student Aid Data Center to provide additional data on the colleges that have received funding, including their numbers of Pell Grant recipients; their enrollment levels; the states in which they are located; the types of institution they are; and other data, including CAP-calculated amounts of funding per student.

The CARES Act formula allocates 75 percent of the funds based upon an institution’s share of all Pell Grant students nationally. It allocates the other 25 percent based upon an institution’s share of all non-Pell Grant recipients nationally. Both populations are based on what is known as full-time equivalent enrollment, which, for example, treats two half-time students as akin to one full-time student.

This funding formula, however, is imperfect. Among other things, using full-time equivalent enrollment results in less money flowing to community colleges because they have large numbers of part-time students. The CARES formula also resulted in the awarding of more than half a billion dollars to cover operating expenses at private for-profit colleges, a poor policy choice given that the selling point of these institutions is their ability to prove private market interest. To learn about how to improve the CARES Act formula in future federal legislation, read CAP’s recent issue brief, “A Better Formula for Higher Education’s Federal Coronavirus Funding.”

Ben Miller is the vice president for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.