Colleges seek bailout money in coronavirus relief package

Amid the coronavirus crisis, colleges and their lobbying groups are requesting $50 billion in federal stimulus money.

Congress included $6 billion in the first round of negotiations, which failed to pass.

As Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to negotiate the terms of a coronavirus aid and stimulus package, colleges and their lobbying arms are pressing for approximately $50 billion in relief funding

Led by the American Council on Education, a group of more than a half dozen higher education organizations sent a memorandum to Congress explaining the “substantial” financial impact that will hit communities across the country if colleges and universities continue to remain closed because of the coronavirus. 

“Like every segment of our society, higher education institutions have struggled to balance multiple concerns while prioritizing the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” the memo reads. The groups also contend that colleges and universities would be unable to recuperate current losses in the future because they are not-for-profit institutions. 

“Unlike for-profit businesses, non-profits and public institutions cannot make up these losses from future revenues.”

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The organizations argue that colleges and universities are vital to the economies of their communities, and the groups are proposing four initiatives to “alleviate the harm” already experienced by higher education institutions. 

The four initiatives include: emergency funding grants to students in need, access to low-interest loans, lifting regulations tied to Title IV funding, and $7.8 billion in a “technology implementation fund” that helps the transition to online learning. 

The maximum emergency funding grants to students would be $1,500. Institutions would also be eligible for grant money to offset short-term losses, provided that they can prove “operating losses” and “increased expenses.” According to Bloomberg Government, the initial coronavirus aid package that was rejected over the weekend included approximately $6 billion in assistance to higher education. 

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Jon Fansmith, director of government relations at ACE, called the proposed funding “a drop in the bucket.” 

“It’s nowhere near what’s needed just to replace part of the losses colleges have experienced,” he added. 

Campus Reform reached out to the American Association of Community Colleges and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities but received no response in time for publication. 

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