Universities received billions in COVID relief. Some are still imposing delays, remote instruction.

Campus Reform revisited the money universities received in 2020 through the CARES Act.

This legislation gave universities billions to help students directly and make campuses better equipped for the pandemic.

In 2020, the federal government gave American colleges and universities approximately $14 billion in relief through the CARES Act. As part of the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, the CARES Act allocation mandated that approximately half its funds be used for emergency student aid. 

Now, nearly two years after President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act in March 2020, numerous institutions that received aid are delaying in-person learning due to the Omicron variant.  

By Jan. 7, seven out of 10 University of California campuses announced “revisions to their winter quarter or winter semester plans.” Winter sessions precede the spring semester, which traditionally starts in mid-to-late January.

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Those seven universities received nearly $224 million in CARES funds, according to the Department of Education website. 

Though the CARES Act’s institutional use portion, according to the Internal Revenue Service, aimed to “support institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including school closures,” recipient universities are now handling the Omicron spike in varied ways. 

For example, the University of Washington, which received approximately $39.7 million in CARES funds, enabled its professors to choose remote instruction through Jan. 28. However, Washington State University, which received approximately $21.8 million, is conducting in-person classes for the entire spring semester. 

In Illinois, the University of Illinois at Chicago is holding remote classes Jan. 10 through Jan. 23. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, however, is spending only one week online and will resume in-person classes after Jan. 23. 

The universities received approximately $29.9 million and $31.4 million, respectively. 

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Five Ivy League schools announced remote starts to 2022, with Yale University pushing some colleges’ start dates to Jan. 25. The other institutions are Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University.

In total, these elite schools received approximately $51 million. 

Conversely, Texas A&M University-San Antonio received approximately $5.6 million but is holding in-person classes for the entire spring semester. 

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