An Exploration of CARES Act Funding Policies Affecting Hispanic-Serving Institutions in Texas
Sansone, Vanessa A.
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Context: Despite the laudable efforts to tailor federal funding via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) in a way that supports underfunded minority-serving institutions and students, the allocation of funds did not consider the unique characteristics of public Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and their students. This resulted in distribution to each HSI a lower share of CARES Act funding than what was necessary to support their students, which handicapped relief efforts to the very institutions these funds are meant to support. As a result, public four-year HSIs responded to CARES Act funding in disproportionate ways. Methods: Using federal CARES Act reporting data and legislative appropriations requests data, I carried out a comparative case study analysis of CARES Act spending patterns among selected HSIs within Texas. Centering decision-making in uncertain times within a resource dependency framing, I synthesize the educational policy funding context that each selected HSI was operating within before the pandemic to better understand how each HSI spent federal emergency relief aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. Implications: Results from this study can be used to inform understandings about state and federal financial investments for public HSIs, public HSI revenue and expenditure trends, and federal relief aid spending among public HSIs. Findings can also be used to learn how to reform federal relief aid policy for HSIs as well as help guide other HSIs on how to spend federal relief aid in better ways that enhance long-term financial sustainability and offer reparative justice for Latinos and other communities of color enrolled across HSIs.
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies