February 1, 2023

AASCU Statement on the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Annual Performance Report

Kellee Edmonds
(202) 478-4662

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2023 –  The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) celebrates today’s release by the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Department of Education of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) 2021 Annual Performance Report. The document illustrates well the many ways these funds supported colleges and universities through the uncertainty created by the public health crisis.

“AASCU members were the recipients of this generosity. Of the 519 regional public colleges and universities that enroll 4.9 million diverse students, 3.2 million of these students attend AASCU institutions,” said AASCU president Dr. Mildred Garcia. “HEERF funds provided in 2021 were instrumental in supporting AASCU members transition their instruction modality, transform their campuses to ensure a safe and healthy environment, and support their students to remain enrolled and continue their education. These funds served approximately 2.3 million students of color, first-generation and/or low-income students at regional public colleges and universities which provided vital economic support to persist and help obtain a higher education degree,” she continued.

Regional public colleges and universities were positively impacted by the $39.3 billion in HEERF funding included in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the $76 billion overall provided by Congress since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The report highlighted that 80% of Pell Grant recipients at all colleges and universities received additional emergency aid grants from HEERF in 2021. AASCU institutions enroll the largest percentage of Pell recipients among four-year public institutions.

The report also demonstrates how significant the availability of HEERF funds were in 2021, since 54% of the total supplemental funding was spent that year, including 40% of funds provided under the ARP. Similarly, the department indicates that colleges and universities have spent over 90% of their total HEERF funds and 97% of student funds, provided under ARP.

Regional public colleges and universities continue to be grateful for the critical support received from HEERF and are pleased with the accountability this report provides on the use of these funds. We continue to call on Congress to provide increased support for regional public colleges and universities and other institutions that serve the most vulnerable students that now represent the new majority of America, who must become engaged, democratic citizens in our nation.


The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. Visit us at www.aascu.org.