Governor John Carney today announced a $45 million fund to assist Delaware colleges and universities affected by COVID-19.
Eligible institutions for the Higher Education Relief Fund include Delaware College of Art and Design, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, Goldey-Beacom College, University of Delaware, Wesley College and Wilmington University.
The federal CARES Act requires the funding to go to specific expenses directly related to COVID-19 response. Delaware got $1.25 billion and has spread the money around. All CARES Act money must be spent by Dec. 31.
The higher education sector, like everywhere else, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Students have stayed out of dorms and deferred college, reducing the tuition payments and other revenue.
In April, Delaware’s colleges and universities received more than $30 million in CARES Act funds, with the requirement that half go to students with short-term losses and costs.
Delaware State University at the same time established an emergency relief fund, which drew $1 million in donations in two months.
But moves made this spring and summer weren’t enough.
The University of Delaware has the most public about its financial woe. In September, it announced it was facing a $250 million deficit for the 2020-21 school — and planning on various cutbacks.
In a letter to faculty and staff, President Dennis Assanis blamed the shortfall on a 10% drop in new students, 5% drop in returning students, only 20% of dorm capacity being used, a loss of parking revenue, a loss of student fees, reduced tuition revenue and increased costs of COVID-19 education, precautions and quarantine space.
UD ended fall classes last week. On Feb. 15 it will start spring classes, with the goal of having 4,000 students in dorms, which is 60 percent of occupancy.
Delaware State University’s response to the pandemic included testing all 1,700 students and staff twice a week. New Castle County has allocated up to $5 million in CARES Act funding for a COVID-19 testing lab on Kirkwood Highway to be run by Delaware State
Expenses that the Higher Education Relief Fund can cover include:
• Personal protective equipment.
• Equipment purchased to make buildings suitable for COVID-19 safety, such as air purifiers.
• Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting services.
• Expenses for technical assistance on mitigation of COVID-19 related threats.
• Costs incurred to conduct enhanced screenings for employees and students.
• Technology and tele-services needed to adjust to COVID-19 response.
• Signage necessary because of the pandemic.
• Marketing and media expenses incurred to respond to COVID-19.
The governor’s Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee advised such funding “to avoid tuition increases or reduction in student loan/grants.”