The Department of Education announced Monday that it had extended nearly a half-billion dollars in funding over the past year to Utah colleges and universities under the American Rescue Plan.

Utah was offered $506 million through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which included $59 million for community and technical colleges, with Salt Lake Community College tabbed to receive $44.4 million. Nationwide, more than $10 billion in aid flowed to more than 1,000 community colleges.

“The Department of Education expects at least half of these funds will be used to provide direct financial relief to students. In addition to funding provided under previous coronavirus relief legislation, these funds are already being used by colleges and universities across the country to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to an Education Department statement.

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The announcement said Brigham Young University received $88.5 million, but a BYU spokeswoman said BYU has not applied, requested or received any funding from the Department of Education throughout the pandemic.

BYU has had its own plan and funding to assist students who have struggled to meet their basic needs due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.

According to the Department of Education, some of Utah’s public universities and colleges that received funding included:

  • Utah Valley University: $83.8 million.
  • University of Utah: $54.7 million.
  • Utah State University: $54 million.
  • Weber State University: $44.5 million.
  • Davis Technical College: $3.4 million.
  • Ogden-Weber Technical College: $2.8 million.
  • Mountainland Technical College: $2.8 million.

The Education Department said about $11 billion was sent to Hispanic-serving institutions while more than $2.7 billion went to historically Black colleges and universities. More than $190 million was appropriated to tribally controlled colleges and universities.

Approximately $5 billion went to Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, while nearly $1 billion was appropriated to predominantly Black institutions.

recent survey of college presidents by the American Council on Education found that the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund enabled 93% of colleges nationwide to provide direct financial support to students at risk of dropping out.

It also enabled 63% of colleges to purchase COVID-19 tests, support health screenings and provide health care to help keep students, faculty and staff healthy, the survey said.

It also helped 81% of colleges to keep student net prices similar to pre-pandemic levels and allowed 70% of colleges to continue to employ faculty and other employees at risk of unemployment, according to the survey.

“Thousands of colleges and universities all across the country are using HEERF to keep students enrolled and on track to graduate, as well as make college more affordable, by providing emergency grants, discharging outstanding student debt or unpaid balances, and eliminating transcript withholding practices,” the survey said.