Using Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds to Support Student Transitions from High School to Higher Education

A new policy guide, created in partnership with the College in High School Alliance, Everyone Graduates Center, Linked Learning Alliance, and National College Attainment Network, encourages state and district leaders to use federal coronavirus relief funds to improve college access and success, especially for students who are historically underserved and under-represented in higher education. During the pandemic, college enrollment declined, particularly among low-income students and students of color — a trend that’s likely to continue, given the drop in students applying for federal financial aid.

Fortunately, Congress provided nearly $190 billion for K–12 education to states and districts through three COVID-19 relief packages. This guide explains the three packages and highlights opportunities for K–12 education leaders to use funds on strategies supporting students’ transitions to college and careers. As states and district leaders finalize plans for spending these funds in the 2021-22 school year and beyond, they should consider using money on evidence-based practices that will re-engage high school students and ensure they are on track to graduate college- and career-ready. For example, funds can be used to support enhanced college advising, summer bridge, and other programs that improve college access; expand dual enrollment and early college high schools; and implement college and career pathways that incorporate work-based learning opportunities.

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