Community Colleges’ Spending of Federal Recovery Funds

To provide a clearer picture of federal recovery funds received by community colleges, how much of those funds have been spent, and what proportion of funds were spent on institution and student needs, the Community College Research Center (CCRC) will analyze data from the U.S. Department of Education and all 50 states on the use of Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Funds. The funds were appropriated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act), and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP Act). The analysis—paired with the results of a survey of college relief spending—will inform pandemic recovery efforts and help policymakers plan for future public health or other emergencies.

Though the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) transparency portal lists the amount of HEER Funds awarded to colleges and how much has been spent, it lacks detail on the spending, and the volume of information makes the website challenging to navigate.

CCRC is examining funding and spending patterns nationally and by institutional and student characteristics, including creating an easy-to-use data dashboard so policymakers, researchers, and others can understand how community colleges spent federal relief money, including what proportion went directly to students.

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305X220022 to Teachers College, Columbia University.



Pandemic Relief Funding Dashboard

CCRC | October 2023

Hollie Daniels

An interactive Tableau dashboard presents publicly available award and spending data on HEER Funds from the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) Transparency Portal. Users are able to examine funding and spending trends at community colleges across the country by region, state, and other institutional characteristics.


Pandemic Relief Funding for Community Colleges

CCRC | June 2023

Hollie Daniels, Tia Monahan, and Megan Anderson

In response to the pandemic, over $75 billion of federal money was directed to institutions of higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Funds. This brief describes the broad purposes of the funds, and it provides a first look at how much funding was awarded to and spent by the nation’s community colleges between March 2020 and February 2023.

Lead Researchers

Hollie Daniels is a research associate at CCRC. Her research interests include students’ college and career readiness, access, and success. She has a background in quantitative and qualitative research. She can be reached at

Explore pandemic relief funding with this interactive dashboard