Education

Colleges Get Billions in Coronavirus Relief, but Say Deal Falls Short of Needs


Already, schools are refunding tens of millions of dollars in costs for housing and food plans, struggling to pay salaries for faculty and staff members and incurring new costs associated with digital classrooms. And with the college admissions season this spring in flux, they cannot predict tuition revenue in the fall.

“Campuses are losing staggering sums,” Mr. Mitchell said. “If these needs are not met, students are going to suffer financially and may drop out.”

The bill ensures funding for the hardest hit institutions, those that serve overwhelmingly low-income populations, with about $1 billion for historically black colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions and tribal colleges.

Michael L. Lomax, the president of the United Negro College Fund, said the funding would help the schools move to digital platforms, adding, “thankfully, this time Congress remembered us.”

Public and private research universities joined medical schools and teaching hospitals in requesting an additional $13 billion for their research operations. The schools said they needed help paying staff members, such as postdoctoral students, and maintaining or shutting down laboratories. The bill contained $1.3 billion for research, about 10 percent of what they had asked for.

Four-year public research universities, which serve 5.8 million students and employ 1.1 million faculty, conducted $52.8 billion in research in the 2018 fiscal year alone. Much of that was federally sponsored.

Peter McPherson, the president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, which represent nearly all public research institutions, noted that some member schools, such as the University of Washington, have helped fight the coronavirus.