Department of Education Announces New Grant for Schools Affected by COVID

The educational field has been greatly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Many colleges and universities are struggling to pivot to online classes, and there are all sorts of costs associated with running a campus during COVID. The United States Department of Education hopes to provide some relief for struggling schools. A new grant opportunity was just announced that may be life changing for many students.

What You Need to Know About the New IREPO Grant

The new grant announced by the Department of Education is the Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity (IREPO) Grant Program Competition. According to the official announcement of the grant, it is designed to assist higher education institutions that have been affected by the pandemic. The goal of the grant program is to provide more educational opportunities for students. It is also meant to ensure that schools do not close permanently due to the financial costs of COVID.

Who Is Eligible for the Grant?

Unlike many other government grants, there are no strict requirements for this grant. It is open to all higher education facilities such as colleges and universities. Both public and private schools may apply for the IREPO grant. Just about any school can apply as long as they feel they have been affected by COVID-19. When awarding grant funds, there are a few different criteria the Department of Education will look at. Those who meet this criteria will receive priority consideration in grant fund distribution.

The first way that a school can get priority consideration is by providing dual enrollment opportunities to rural and impoverished students. If a college lets students in a rural community or Opportunity Zone enroll, it will be prioritized. Another potential way to get priority consideration is by being a minority serving institution. Schools that are Historically Black Colleges and universities(HBCUs) or Tribal Colleges will be prioritized. Any developing institution that participates in Title III or Title V programs will also get preference. The final reason a school would qualify for priority consideration is by being devoted to distance learning. Schools that are actively creating instructional models meant to teach students who cannot attend school in person will be more likely to get grant money.

How Can Schools Use the Grant?

There are all sorts of great applications for these grant funds. Schools can use them to resume operations, so just about any school-related component that was shut down by COVID-19 can be funded with the grant. This includes purchasing supplies, covering the cost of utilities, or paying employees. Furthermore, the grant funds can be used to develop proposed distance learning models. Schools can use the money to work on software for online learning or provide students with tablets as part of a distance learning program.

The IREPO announcement also specifies that the funding can be used to rescue disease transmission at the school. Schools can use it for small things like installing more hand sanitizing stations or larger things like renting out property to give more space for social distancing. The final way that the grant is allowed to be used is in student support. This is left up to the discretion of the school. It may end up taking the form of student scholarships, free meal plans, additional healthcare, or other things that help students pursue education.

How to Apply For the Grant

The IREPO program will start accepting applications on August 21, 2020. Schools need to provide the government with an intent to apply for the grant by September 10, 2020. Then they need to submit their final grant documents by October 20, 2020. All necessary grant documentation can be submitted through the website. Those interested in the grant can use 202-453-6337 to get more information on the grant.

Applying for this grant must be done by the school itself. Students and private individuals do not qualify for the grant. However, once a school receives the grant, they may choose to use some of the funds for the students. Grant applications will be reviewed and accepted on a case by case basis until funding runs out.

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