What the CARES Act and CRRSAA Funds Mean for Higher Ed – Online Learning
March 4, 2021

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. A $2 trillion stimulus package designed to mitigate the financial hardships facing the American people and businesses. The CARES Act provided needed relief to colleges and universities, allocating $14 billion to help support higher education institutions [1]. It was a necessary first step in response to the fallout from business and school shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, which wreaked havoc on the economy and resulted in millions of job losses. After the year's losses were tallied and noticeably eclipsed the relief funding provided by the CARES Act, it was determined that higher education needed vastly more funds to help with the massive losses due to the Coronavirus. Additional legislation was drafted, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) was enacted on December 27, 2020. This Act provided an additional $22.7 billion for institutions of higher education [2]. These Acts provided higher education with the "most direct federal funds in a single year since the Great Recession" [3].   

The CARES Act and the CRRSAA were designed to support higher education institutions and students by directing the funds allocated to be separated into a Student Aid Portion and an Institution Portion. Of the $14 billion of direct aid provided to schools from the CARES Act, "at least 50% of funds for each institution must be used to provide emergency assistance to students to help ease the transition to online education and ensure they still have access to necessities like housing, food, technology, and child care" [5]. The additional funding from the CRRSAA provides a larger margin for institution use. It requires that schools "provide the "same amount" in financial aid grants to students from the new CRRSAA funds that it was required…to provide under its original CARES Act Student Aid Portion award" [6]. Since this funding package is nearly $9 billion dollars more, a greater portion of the allocations are available for institutions to use.  

With this funding from the CARES Act, colleges took care of food, housing, financial aid, Wi-Fi, and providing electronic devices, among other things. The next step now CRRSAA funds have been allocated, and these milestones are taken care of is to focus on increasing student engagement and success. This will increase retention and drive enrollment, providing much-needed revenue for higher education institutions. The U.S. Department of Education states, "institutions may use the funds … to purchase equipment or software, pay for online licensing fees, or pay for internet service to enable students to transition to distance learning" [7]. With this ability to use spending on software, universities need to consider where to spend this money best to get the maximum ROI and the most positive student outcomes.  

Student engagement is where strides can be taken in the direction of improved outcomes. Kristin Kipp, chair of education media design and technology at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, and Kerry Rice, a professor in the department of educational technology at Boise State University, agree that engaged learners "demonstrate stronger satisfaction with learning experiences, stronger achievement in courses and increased graduation rates" [8]. These are all factors that will drive revenue by increasing retention and attracting new students to enroll.  

Kipp and Rice also mention that "learning environments where fostering relationships, productive instructional strategies and social and emotional development is supported are where the deepest engagement happens" [9]. With your school's funding, you can ensure that your online learning environment has these characteristics and more.  

How Can Your University Easily and Effectively Use Relief Funds to Launch an Engaging Online Learning Environment That Drives Retention and Increases Enrollment?

COVID-19 caused numerous changes to higher education. The switch to online classes was not a smooth process, and many schools are still using systems that are not optimal for student engagement and are hurting the retention and enrollment number instead of helping them. This is because online learning environments are not all created equal. Your school's ideal solution to achieve the greatest results is to partner with a company that provides world-class online learning platforms.  

Here are some key elements of an online learning platform that will increase engagement: 

  • Custom branded platform and content  
  • Easy integration with other learning tools 
  • Intuitive design
  • AI and advanced data analytics to provide insights into students learning 
  • Community building platform features like discussion boards and video capabilities 

Partnering with a company that provides a world-class online learning platform is of the utmost importance to increase engagement to help recover lost revenue due to the Coronavirus. Choosing the right platform for your school is an important step to prepare you for the future of education and position your institution for success.  

Amesite Offers a Single, Easy to Use, Scalable Solution  

Launch an online learning environment that will increase engagement and build community, driving retention, enrollment, and increased revenue.  

Amesite is specifically designed for engaged learning and has a retention rate of 98% in its education programs. This is an unprecedented number and one which speaks to the very high level of engagement that Amesite's platform offers. The platform provides unparalleled ease of use, features that build communication and engagement, and compelling custom content.  

Artificial intelligence drives some of the most compelling experiences on the internet, and Amesite brings these tools to education in a novel and transformative way.  

Amesite's product is easy to use and scale and offers:  

  • A branded, customized platform that's scalable and cost-effective
  • An engaging platform that proves the value of online learning 
  • Integrated content and digital backbone 
  • Intuitive social media inspired design which builds community
  • AI and advanced data analytics
  • Turn-key programs 

By correlating learner behaviors with specific outcomes identified by qualified instructors, Amesite trains its algorithms specifically for essential learning outcomes, enabling it to be a useful tool for instructors. The combinations of information collected through Amesite's educational products and outcomes measured using our online learning products are easy to use and implement and offer resilience to every organization.  

Let Amesite help your school launch an engaging online learning platform today. Request a Demo!   

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[1] CLASP. April 17, 2020. How the CARES Act Supports Higher Education.,12%20schools%2C%20and%20higher%20education.&text=%2414%20billion%20of%20the%20fund,funds%20going%20directly%20to%20institutions. Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[2] US Department of Education. Jan. 29, 2021. CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[3] American Progress. May 11, 2020. A Better Formula for Higher Education’s Federal Coronavirus Funding. Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[4] Bi Partisan Party Center. April 13, 2020. What’s in the CARES Act for Higher Education?  Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[5] Bi Partisan Party Center. April 13, 2020. What’s in the CARES Act for Higher Education?  Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[6] US Department of Education. 2021. Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) II 

Public and Private Nonprofit Institution (a)(1) Programs (CFDAs 84.425E 

and 84.425F) Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[7]EdTech Magazine. Aug. 4, 2020. What Technologies Can Colleges Spend Their CARES Act Funds On?,of%20higher%20education%20technology%20spending.&text=%E2%80%9CInstitutions%20may%20use%20the%20funds,U.S.%20Department%20of%20Education%20states.  Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[8] EdTech Magazine. Sept. 6, 2020. What Can Higher Ed Leaders Do to Support Engaging Remote Education? Accessed Feb. 26, 2021. 

[9] EdTech Magazine. Sept. 6, 2020. What Can Higher Ed Leaders Do to Support Engaging Remote Education? Accessed Feb. 26, 2021.