Money colleges, universities getting from CARES Act won’t cover losses from pandemic

VIDEO: S.C. higher education institutions receiving federal stimulus relief

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Public and private higher education institutions across our state have been hit hard financially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education estimates the losses in revenue are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. But, those institutions are getting some federal stimulus relief as part of CARES Act funding.

Back in April, many of the schools in our area issued refunds to students for things like meal plans, parking and housing. But through the CARES Act, our higher education institutions will be getting nearly $20 million to help with their losses.

The total allocations each school is expecting is:

  • College of Charleston: $7.6 million
  • Trident Technical College: $6.6 million
  • Charleston Southern University: $2.8 million
  • The Citadel: $2.5 million

Half of those amounts, however, must go directly into the hands of students. The other half can be used to cover institutional losses associated with COVID-19.

College of Charleston

CofC spokesman Mike Robertson says the college received about $3.8 million in the first round of funding.

The college has developed a plan for the distribution of the funds to students based on financial aid filings, with priority given to students with the greatest financial need. Students eligible to receive funding were notified directly.

Robertson said, however, the money from the CARES Act doesn’t cover the amount the college has lost, which is about $7 million related to the pandemic. The bulk of that is because of refunds for housing and meal plans.

Robertson said they may also get additional CARES funding, but that has not yet been distributed.

The college has not done any layoffs or furloughs related to the pandemic.

Trident Technical College

As of last week, the college has distributed $3.1 million in emergency grants to its students, Trident Tech spokesman David Hansen said.

Hansen said part of the funding they receive will also be used to offset expenses related to moving additional instruction online.

Hansen said they haven’t had significant financial losses because of the pandemic, but there obviously is a lot of uncertainty for the next fiscal year. Hansen added they aren’t sure how the pandemic will affect enrollment or the funding the college receives from the state and the three counties they serve.

Hansen said they have not had to lay off any permanent employees during the pandemic.

Charleston Southern University

Some of Charleston South University’s losses include rebates and funding from summer camps that are no longer happening, spokesperson Jenna Johnson said.

Johnson said the amount they have received from the CARES Act does not cover everything lost, but they are certainly grateful for the assistance.

In a best-case situation, Charleston Southern estimates they will lose about $7.6 million over the next 12 months because of the pandemic. It’s a reason they have reduced spending, continued a hiring freeze for all but the most essential positions, and scaled back capital projects that can be expanded post-pandemic.

Johnson said they expect to bring back the 47 furloughed employees on August 1.

The Citadel

The Citadel plans to use $1.2 million for student grants, spokesperson Kim Keelor says.

Those funds are being issued to give students cash to cover their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations because of the pandemic such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare.

Approximately 75% of the initial CARES Act funding is being disbursed directly to about 530 eligible students. There is a second disbursement to an additional 32 Pell Grant recipients. The remaining 20% will be available to other students who apply for and are eligible for emergency financial assistance.

“No one is under any illusion that we’re going to be returning to normal operations in the fall,” Citadel Vice President for Communications and Marketing Col. John Dorrian said. “What we’re going to be returning to is a new normal. And that means that we’re going to have to put in place some extra measures to protect people’s health and safety. That means we’re going to have to change some of the ways we do business. That means we’re going to have to look for efficiencies.”

Dorrian added they are going to retain valuable experiences for their cadets. The budget, however, is something the college is focused on to make things as efficient as possible.

Dorrian said The Citadel refunded more than $4 million to their cadets for the room and board they were not able to use because of the pandemic.

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