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Community Colleges Get Smaller Shares of Emergency Grants

May 5, 2020

Community colleges are getting disproportionately less than other types of institutions in CARES Act emergency grants to help students deal with financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, finds a new report by the Century Foundation.

On average, colleges and universities nationally are getting $281 per student in federal funding for the grants. But community colleges, which enroll the most undergraduates of any sector and often enroll students with the greatest financial and educational needs, are receiving an average of $187 per student, the study found.

In comparison, nonprofit, four-year institutions are receiving an average of $298 per student; public four-year institutions are getting $337 per student and for-profits are getting $539 per student.

Even among community colleges, some are receiving smaller shares. For example, Indiana's community college system is receiving an average of $123 per student, even though 38 percent of its students live in poverty.

Congress was right to prioritize the funding based on the number of low-income Pell Grant recipients at institutions, the report found. But not all high-need students obtain the Pell Grant, often due to noncompletion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. While full-time students have greater tuition than part-time students, the study said, all types of students need housing, food, technology and health care.

(Note: Dollar figures have changed slightly from a previous version of this article to reflect a correction to the report.)

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Kery Murakami

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