ILLINOIS (WAND) - Lawmakers have announced $218 million for Illinois colleges to help with emergency financial aid for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement came Tuesday from U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). The funding is from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which is authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Colleges will be able to provide students with cash grants meant for "expenses related to disruptions to their educations" because of the outbreak, according to a press release from lawmakers. Schools must use this funding to give to the students. 

Items including, but not limited to, things like course materials and technology, food, housing, health care and childcare are the intended student uses for the money. Each college or university will make decisions about which students will receive funding. 

“College students are experiencing unprecedented disruptions to their education due to this pandemic and it's especially harmful for students already struggling to make ends meet. I’m pleased this funding has quickly been made available to provide direct cash relief for students in need,” Durbin said. “Senator Duckworth and I remain committed to finding more legislative solutions to provide additional relief for students and colleges.”

“Like all of us, college students are working to navigate the public health and economic crisis we are currently in, and for low-income students and families this can be especially difficult,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to work with Senator Durbin to advocate for federal support for the students who need it most right now.”

Lawmakers said additional money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund will be announced in the coming weeks for colleges to help with "institutional needs and costs" related to the virus. Illinois is expected to claim a total of $437 million from the fund.

To see the total breakdown of allocation per higher education institute click here. 

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