In response to the pandemic, the federal government made one of the most substantial investments ever in the nation’s colleges and universities through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Since 2020, Texas institutions have received more than $6.5 billion, of which $2.5 billion was required to be distributed directly to students in the form of emergency aid.

Based on available reporting from calendar year 2021, the findings presented in this brief and the accompanying interactive data tool reflect the flow of these funds from the Department of Education to postsecondary institutions in Texas and ultimately to students. Our analysis examines the distribution of emergency aid based on institutional type and sector, student race/ethnicity, and Pell status. We also explore the impact of institutional choice points when deciding whether to require student applications and supporting documentation, as well as trends related to institution-level student retention rates.

We recognize that many external factors influenced the data presented here and we will continue to gather additional insights through further quantitative and qualitative research.

Executive Summary

  • More than 1 million Texas students received federal emergency aid through HEERF, nearly half (47%) of all students statewide based on enrollment figures reported by institutions.
  • Despite having similar average amounts of unmet financial need, Texas students enrolled at public two-year colleges were less likely to receive emergency aid — and received smaller average award amounts — than students enrolled at public four-year universities.
  • Across all institutions, Black students receiving aid were awarded higher average amounts of emergency aid than other racial/ethnic student groups.
  • More than 450,000 Pell recipients — nearly 80% of all Pell recipients statewide — received emergency aid and were awarded significantly higher average amounts than non-Pell recipients. Nearly one-third of all non-Pell recipients — over 404,000 students — also received emergency aid.
  • Across sectors, improved retention rates at the institution level were correlated with larger percentages of students receiving emergency aid. This correlation was consistently stronger for institutions with higher percentages of Pell recipients.

Explore Our Interactive Texas HEERF Distribution Dashboard

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