WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration is giving U.S. colleges and universities another $198 million to help them curb COVID-19 and address student needs such as housing and food amid the ongoing pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education said on Thursday.
The wave of new funds, approved as part of the American Rescue Plan law passed last year, will be directed primarily to schools with the greatest need, including community colleges and institutions in rural areas, the department said.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in a statement, said students nationwide have told him how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused other disruptions to their lives that have impacted their education, upending their housing, food and transportation.
The added funds "will be critical to ensuring that students can persist and successfully complete their degree programs without having to worry about where their next meal will come from or whether they will be able to find childcare for their children," he said.
The department also released new guidelines to help colleges and universities assist students with basic needs and other challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.
Cardona, along with first lady Jill Biden, is scheduled to highlight the additional funding at an event later on Thursday at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021, includes $170 billion in federal education funds for a range of schools. Nearly $40 billion was allotted for colleges and universities, the department said.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)