Following the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in March 2020, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) was created to provide federal stimulus to colleges and universities across the country.
Following the passage were two additional stimulus packages in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) in December 2020 and March 2021, respectively.
Broken up by package:
UCSC ended up getting over $105 million in federal relief money, $6 million of which UCSC earns through its status as a minority-serving institution. City on a Hill Press has your answers on who’s controlling that money and where it’s going.
How much went directly to students’ pockets?
Of the over $105 million that UCSC received in federal stimulus, it was required to use at least $44.7 million on direct payments to students. UCSC eventually distributed only the minimum $44.7 million it was required to use for student payments. UCSC also reported that a total of 17,994 students received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant over the past two years using HEERF funds.
What about the other $60 million?
A significant amount of money went to the payment of “lost revenue,” income that would’ve come in through housing, dining, tuition, and revenue from the Bay Tree Bookstore but didn’t because of the lack of students on campus due to the pandemic.
More money was spent on the “transition to online learning,” teaching instructors how to conduct remote courses and getting equipment to instructors and students.
The rest of the money was used for mental health and well-being student services, in addition to health and safety programs like vaccine distribution and testing sites.
Who controls the funding? Who decides how the funding gets allocated?
Allocations to higher education institutions were determined by the U.S. Department of Education. Once the funds directed to UCSC were finalized, the allocation of the stimulus funds was controlled by Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer, according to Associate Vice Chancellor Kimberly Register. It’s then the responsibility of the Budget Analysis and Planning Unit, Register’s department, to implement the flow of funds based on those decisions and ensure that campus units are following uniform guidance.
What can HEERF funds be used for?
HEERF funds used by UCSC have to be directly tied to COVID-19 mitigation, relief, and support. For example, UCSC has contracts with numerous hotels across the city. Some of them are used to house COVID-19 positive students for quarantining while other hotels provide year-long housing for undergraduate and graduate students due to the stiff housing market and limited on-campus space. UCSC can use HEERF funds to subsidize their contracts with hotels that quarantine students, whereas they have to use funds from the housing departments to subsidize hotel rooms for residential student housing.
Is it different from other UC’s?
In comparison to the other eight undergraduate UC campuses, UCSC received the second-lowest amount of HEERF funds from the Department of Education. A detailed list of HEERF allocation across the UC system can be found below.
How much of the funding has been used?
According to Register, UCSC spent 90 percent of the funds it was designated. At the time of publication, City on a Hill Press is able to account for $54 million of the total $105 million. That total does not include HEERF expenditures during winter 2022 as a report of the expenditures made during the quarter will be publicly released by April 10.
Is there a deadline for when the funding has to be used?
Yes, there is a deadline to use those HEERF funds, with different deadlines for each federal stimulus package to be used.
The deadline to use HEERF funds from the CARES act and the CRRSAA already passed whereas the deadline to finish using funds for the ARP is summer 2022.
Additional reporting by Rachel Raiyani and Sofia Ruster.