Covid-19 Justice Higher Education

(Editorial) HuffPo Should Know Better: What the World Needs Now is More Relief for College Students

A Texas Civil Rights Review Editorial

Please see our update on how, despite what this editorial argues, Harvard and Stanford students were hounded out of the COVID-19 emergency relief program.

Harvard University has addressed critics who think the university should not be getting money for COVID-19 relief. In a statement quoted Monday evening by the Boston Herald, Harvard makes it clear that the money will be disbursed entirely for student aid.

The attack on the Harvard funding was poorly informed in the first place, and it was poorly timed.

The controversy over the funding was fueled earlier Monday by a Huffington Post headline that read: “Harvard, America’s Richest University, Grabs Nearly $9 Million In Taxpayer CARES Aid.”

The word “grabs” gives an impression that Harvard made some special effort to secure its share of a $12.5 billion relief package for higher education that was included in the CARES Act, signed into law Mar. 27. The money was allocated by a US Department of Education formula that proportioned the aid across 5,000 campuses according to a broad calculation of student financial need–a formula that resulted in 350 campuses assigned more money than Harvard.

The HuffPo column correctly reports that at least half of the grant to Harvard “must be reserved for emergency financial grants to students”–a requirement mandated by the CARES Act for every campus. Then the column speculates that “at least some of that money — which could be used to cover tuition payments and course materials — would also end up in Harvard coffers.”

Harvard is refuting speculation that it will place any of the CARES Act relief funds into its well-endowed coffers.

“Harvard is actually allocating 100% of the funds to financial assistance for students to meet their urgent needs in the face of this pandemic,” said a Harvard spokesman in a statement quoted Monday evening in the Boston Herald.

“Harvard will allocate the funds based on student financial need,” said the statement. “This financial assistance will be on top of the significant support the University has already provided to students — including assistance with travel, providing direct aid for living expenses to those with need, and supporting students’ transition to online education.”

The huffy HuffPo hit piece may be defended as an attempt to push Harvard toward that 100 percent commitment, but the timing and target of the attack are tone deaf to the more urgent need of the week.

Rather than cast suspicion on emergency student relief that was included in the CARES Act, and rather than hand a talking point to voices who would disparage Congressional relief to higher ed, a more healthy use of HuffPo space would point out that the half of the money which is by law required to help students directly is taking too much time to make its way to Harvard in the first place.

Although the US Department of Education promised “immediate” release of funds on Apr. 9–that is, “immediate” release of funds that were authorized Mar. 27–the fact is that experts knowledgeable in financial aid were unable to verify on Apr. 16 that any of the funds had actually hit any campus.

Compare the speed of this funding to the direct deposit of treasury checks or the funding of small business loans. The SBA ran out of $350 billion at least a week before the Education Department pushed $6 billion in “student emergency relife” out its door. And this is half the scandal of the day.

The mistake of the HuffPo column was to misunderstand the Congressional intent of the funds and to conflate the riches of the Harvard endowment with the real needs of Harvard students, who find themselves suddenly ejected from their dorm rooms or may come home to families where wage earners are laid off.

The timing of the attack was also poorly targeted, as the next round of COVID-19 relief funding is being finalized in Congressional negotiations. The attack is a political chiller that can only hurt relief efforts for American college campuses, exactly when those efforts deserve pressure to increase funding for COVID-19 relief.

Are we all in this together? It’s time to make sure that college students get the attention and suppor they need, whether they go to a rich university like Harvard or not.


Young American Scholars: Give Them Their $6.25B Already

By Greg Moses


While small business owners and individual workers are well aware that the first round of fiscal stimulus is not enough to keep them going through the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s college students are just now discovering that they are owed $6.25 billion in federal emergency relief funding to help them cover “food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.”

When they do the math, of course, 20 million college students will see that the money nobody is rushing to give them will evaporate in a week, just like the small business loans did. Maybe it will be this week, if the Department of Education is finally up to it.

But there may be some value in the foot dragging and delayed disbursement. It may afford college students precious time to rise up.

Students are not friendless. Congress allocated those billions to students already, in the CARES Act of Mar. 27. And while the nation’s attention was drawn to more rapid velocities for small business loans and treasury checks, the American Council on Education (ACE), a coalition of high powered interest groups, in a letter of Apr. 9, already has asked leadership of the US House of Representatives to fund another $23 billion in emergency grants to students “as rapidly as possible.”

Still, students seem to be affected by an iron-lidded contagion of resignation across America’s campuses. The ACE letter to House leadership estimates that 25 percent fewer foreign students will return to American campuses, subtracting their share from an expected 15 percent decline in overall enrollment next Fall.

A Google search of things said by college presidents indicates that austerity, layoff, and furlough are the talking points that address our national campus crisis. If anyone is declaring war against the boring out of college life, they must be working in bunkers darker than the dark web. We would need weapons-grade bots to search out their buried dreams, and rescue them from delete.

If there is a college campus near you, then you see clusters of small businesses nearby, selling pizzas, sandwiches, t-shirts, coffee, tacos, or gas. Oh, and this electronic device that you are reading with right now? Try to tell the complete history of it without giving credit to some college campus.

Fighting off a 15 percent downdraft in college enrollment is not a battle unrelated to a war for economic vibrancy. As for national security or the future of democracy, it is exactly the time for forging swords into ploughshares. More college–not more bullets–must be the essential motto of fiscal planting this Spring. Keep the dedicated, contingent faculty who are already working cheaply. Fund bargain basement discounts for student tuition and fees.

Look to Twitter for what college students are saying, and you’ll find plenty of notice that treasury checks evade them. Perhaps their parents get a check, but even if the student is working at a job, they are often declared a tax dependent, which makes them ineligible for a treasury disbursement.

Or, as one student explained, their father is self-employed, which brings us back to the small business mess. Other students are children of workers who use ITIN numbers, not Social Security numbers. Their parents get laid off without any relief.

How many students are finishing the Spring semester while working to bring home food and rent to parents swallowed up by the pandemic sink hole? Based on stories that I’ve been told, you can say at least two percent, which comes to at least 400,000 families nationally. Those students should get hero’s pay and gold medals, God bless them, one and all.

This crisis should not catch us so stupid as to forget the value of higher ed. Along the many fronts that COVID-19 is attacking, it will be a dumb mistake to let it steal the breath of the Fall semester. Where are the educators who will impress the nation as the health care workers have done?

Time is short, but we must find creative strategies that will transform our college campuses overnight into fundable basic research projects, experimenting in higher forms of life. Give our students their $6.25 billion down payment already, and let’s get scrambling, stat, to make higher ed well again. Like the future depends on it.


Greg Moses is a member of the Texas Civil Rights Collaborative and editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review.

Covid-19 Justice Higher Education

College Students, Campuses Need at Least $46.6B in Fourth Round of COVID-19 Relief, Says Letter from ACE

A Texas Civil Rights Report update on the COVID-19 impacts on college students and higher education.

The American Council on Education requests that the next COVID-19 rescue package from Congress provide at least $46.6 billion in relief for higher education, to be split equally between students and institutions.

Half of the $46.6 billion should be spent as “emergency grants to students” in the amount of $23.3 billion.

“In order to address these urgent needs, it is necessary for the federal government to provide these critical funds to students and campuses as rapidly as possible,” says the coalition of blue-ribbon organizations in an April 9 letter to US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Here is an extended excerpt from the letter (we added paragraph breaks and emphasis):

“The federal government has the sole ability to provide the type of assistance to students, their families, and institutions of higher education that will not only allow colleges and universities to meet the needs of our students and staff, but to continue as engines of local and regional economies.

“Efforts to stimulate the economy must necessarily include the nearly 4,000 degree-granting, two-year and four-year, public and private colleges and universities. These institutions educate roughly 20 million individuals, generate total revenues of about $650 billion (in 2016-17 according to Department of Education data) providing a corresponding economic impact in their communities, and employ nearly 4 million Americans across campuses in every state and congressional district.

“Supporting higher education at this moment is an essential component of growing the economy and preserving employment for tens of thousands of Americans in the public and private sectors. In 2018, the University of Notre Dame had a regional economic impact of $2.46 billion and supported 16,700 jobs. Another study showed that in 2018, the University of Georgia pumped $5.7 billion into that state’s economy.

“In a number of states, such as California, Iowa, and Maryland, universities are the largest employers. Individuals with a postsecondary education degree earn more, pay more taxes, and are more likely than others to be employed, according to the College Board’s Education Pays 2019. For instance, in 2018, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients with no advanced degree working full time were $24,900 higher than those of high school graduates, and those individuals also paid an estimated $7,100 more in taxes.

“The benefits of a higher education are not simply economic. Having a college degree is associated with reduced unemployment, a healthier lifestyle, lower health care costs, and higher levels of civic engagement. Indeed, on any measure of wellness that demographers can devise, college graduates fare significantly better than those who did not go to college.

“Based on extensive conversations with our members and our colleague associations, we have prepared conservative estimates of the support needed to at least partially restore institutions. Many students and families will be earning less, and will have less available to spend on postsecondary education. For that reason, we estimate that a 20% increase in the current level of unmet need of nearly $60 billion will require an additional $12 billion in need-based financial aid.

“On the institutional side, we estimate that enrollment for the next academic year will drop by 15%, including a projected decline of 25% for international students, resulting in a revenue loss for institutions of $23 billion.

“Auxiliary services, which are not related to instruction but provide services to students, faculty, and others, including dormitories, food services, bookstores, health and recreation facilities, and the like, generate revenues for schools. These revenues support day-to-day operations including instruction, academic support, and student services. We estimate auxiliary revenues will decline by 25 percent, which is conservative relative to the numbers institutions have been reporting so far. In FY 2017, America’s colleges and universities realized $44.6 billion in auxiliary revenue, so the expected loss is $11.6 billion.

“All of this adds up to a total estimated need of $46.6 billion, which would be divided equally between students and institutions.

Emergency grants to students totaling $23.3 billion will enable them to begin or continue their college educations. Similarly, institutions will be able to use their share to begin filling financial gaps created by the pandemic.

“It is important to note that these are conservative estimates, excluding numerous areas where institutions are facing additional challenges. We’ve excluded $374 billion in revenues—from sources such as charitable giving, hospital revenues, and investment income to name a few—from this calculation even though a large percentage will undoubtedly be lost. We also do not factor in the significant state disinvestment in higher education that is expected due to substantial financial pressure on states stemming from COVID-19. Accordingly, the figure of $46.6 billion represents just the floor of the overall impact confronting colleges and students as a result of the pandemic.

“To meet both existing needs and to ensure students and families have the resources to return to college in the fall, we propose that the funds continue to be split equally between institutions and students. However, we also request that the funds targeted to students in this supplemental bill be provided by institutions in the form of need-based financial aid, with sufficient flexibility to address sudden changes in students’ circumstances that arise from the economic downturn the pandemic has caused. . . .”

ACE letter to Pelosi, McCarthy (Apr. 9, 2020) archived below (pdf 113 KB)


Covid-19 Justice Higher Education

College Student Relief for COVID-19: CARES Act Provides $6B

Update from the Texas Civil Rights Review
(Last Updated Apr. 17, 2020)

Many college students in the USA are feeling left behind by a federal law that treats them as dependents, therefore ineligible to receive pandemic relief funding to their own accounts. In some cases, parents are eligible for relief, but in many cases parents are not eligible for relief, for example if parents are immigrants or self-employed.

This may give students an impression that Congress did nothing for students. While we agree that Congress has not yet done enough to address the needs of college students who are trying to continue their education, we offer some evidence of what Congress has done.

The CARES Act that authorized pandemic relief checks and small business loans also appropriates $13 billion to college campuses across the country. Here is one law firm’s summary of the education provisions:

We have also obtained a breakdown of how much money has been allocated to each college campus, available here for download (1.3 MB pdf):

CARES Act College Funding Breakdown (1)

We notice that $6 billion, about half of the funding, is earmarked for “Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.”

We are still working to comprehend the meaning of what has been provided by Congress, how institutions will be passing this funding to students, and what remains to be done for college students who are striving to continue their educations during the pandemic.

In the meantime, we hope this summary update is helpful to students who are looking for answers and relief.

Web Sites to Watch:

NCAN (National College Attainment Network) has a page dedicated ton COVID-19 Resources:

NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) has a COVID-19 Web Center:

EdLabor, the Education and Labor Committee of the US House of Representatives has a Combating the Corona Virus landing page:

Check out EdLabor’s April 2, 2020 Fact Sheet on “Emergency Support for Students, Families, Educators, and Institutions,” archived here (299 KB pdf):

2020-04-02 COVID19 Response Education Fact Sheet

We hope this overview of the CARES Act inspires college students to see that Congress has shown interest in providing emergency relief to college students who are striving to continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Don’t Give Up the Fight!”


For the Record: Condemning President Trump’s Racist Comments

4 Congresswomen at press conference
Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) respond to the President’s racist comments.

Introduced in House (07/15/2019)

1st Session
H. RES. 489

Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

July 15, 2019

Mr. Malinowski(for himself, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. García of Illinois, Mr. Carbajal, Ms. Omar, Mr. Krishnamoorthi, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell, Mrs. Torres of California, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Tlaib, Ms. Pressley, Mr. Raskin, Ms. Jackson Lee, and Mr. Espaillat) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

Whereas the Founders conceived America as a haven of refuge for people fleeing from religious and political persecution, and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison all emphasized that the Nation gained as it attracted new people in search of freedom and livelihood for their families;

Whereas the Declaration of Independence defined America as a covenant based on equality, the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the people;

Whereas Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional convention, “When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection”;

Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists”;

Whereas immigration of people from all over the Earth has defined every stage of American history and propelled our social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, artistic, and technological progress as a people, and all Americans, except for the descendants of Native people and enslaved African Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants;

Whereas the commitment to immigration and asylum has been not a partisan cause but a powerful national value that has infused the work of many Presidents;

Whereas American patriotism is defined not by race or ethnicity but by devotion to the Constitutional ideals of equality, liberty, inclusion, and democracy and by service to our communities and struggle for the common good;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy, whose family came to the United States from Ireland, stated in his 1958 book “A Nation of Immigrants” that “The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life. We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and entertainment. There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background. Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”;

Whereas President Ronald Reagan in his last speech as President conveyed “An observation about a country which I love”;

Whereas as President Reagan observed, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors, and it is the Statue of Liberty and its values that give us our great and special place in the world;

Whereas other countries may seek to compete with us, but in one vital area, as “a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close”;

Whereas it is the great life force of “each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed” through the 21st century and beyond and is part of the “magical, intoxicating power of America”;

Whereas this is “one of the most important sources of America’s greatness: we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation”;

Whereas “thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge”, always leading the world to the next frontier;

Whereas this openness is vital to our future as a Nation, and “if we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost”; and

Whereas President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations;

(2) is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and

(3) strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should “go back” to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders,” and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.