CHILI, N.Y. (WROC) — Colleges and universities across New York State are receiving a total of $900 million from the federal CARES Act. Private colleges are receiving $300 million of that.
Roberts Wesleyan College is one of many colleges receiving that money. Half of it will go directly to students and the rest can be used to help the college with anything COVID-19 related.
Roberts is receiving $1.3 million, plus $15,000 for its seminary, in federal funding. Kimberley Wiedefeld is the vice president for enrollment management at Roberts. She said 40% of undergraduate students at Roberts are PEL Grant recipients.
“We are still in the development process of deciding who those dollars will go to and how we will award them, but the goal is to make sure we meet the needs of students who have extra needs based on moving to a virtual environment,” Wiedefeld said.
Mary Beth Labate is the president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. She said the law isn’t specific about how many students should be given money, or how much money each student should be given. She said colleges with more low income students will receive more funding.
The other half of the money goes towards COVID-19 related expenses.
“They could use it to help transfer in the costs incurred in transitioning to distance learning, the costs incurred in cleaning their campuses. We’re hoping we could use it ultimately to provide more financial aid to students,” Labate said.
The University of Rochester is receiving $6 million. A spokesperson for the college said while they are grateful for the help it’s not enough. They said this in a full statement:
The University of Rochester is extremely grateful for the support and leadership from our Congressional delegation for the emergency relief packages being made available for our patients, health care providers, researchers, and our students. These relief programs represent a lifeline for the University right now in order to support the unprecedented steps we have taken to help contain the virus, prepare and protect our community, and manage the significant revenue losses we continue to incur. As one part of this, the University is expected to receive a little more than $6M from the CARES Act, allocated by the U.S. Department of Education based on student need at each institution.
As a major research university with an academic medical center and six hospitals, we have halted elective procedures and dedicated so many of our resources to prepare and care for our region’s COVID-19 patients, leveraged our expertise to identify local disease patterns with our government partners, and kept our scientists and clinicians at the forefront of national efforts to develop new diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine. While these were the right things to do, the economic challenges caused by this pandemic response are particularly acute and forced us to make some difficult, but necessary decisions regarding our workforce. While we are grateful for the support we have received for our hospitals and front line staff, it is insufficient.
We appreciate that some universities and health care systems may be better equipped to absorb their respective financial losses, but we are not, even as we continue to implement significant cost-saving actions. The federal relief packages created for institutions like ours are absolutely essential to our own operational recovery so that we may continue to fulfill our educational, research and health care missions.
Abate also said it’s a challenging time for colleges as they lose money from room and board refunds, event cancellations, and adjust to the new normal of enrollment for the next semester.