The U.S. Department of Education announced the detailed state-by-state spread of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) — which was approved just under a year ago on March 11, 2021 — funding in a press release on Monday. The press release was followed by a press conference focused predominantly on the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II), which focuses on funds for colleges and universities as part of the American Rescue Plan.
The state of Michigan received over $1 billion in funding for the state’s colleges and universities. Under the plan, the University of Michigan will receive $64,724,747. Michigan State University will receive $81,753,998, and community colleges in the state will receive $303 million.
During Monday’s press conference, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona responded to inquiries on the oversight for the U.S. DOE to ensure relief funds are properly distributed by universities.
“(It’s important) that we’re also communicating with colleges, with districts, with states on how the money is being used,” Cardona said. “There are reporting features. It’s important for us to know, but it’s more important for you to know. So it’s really important in our messaging to them that they make this information public.”
The release declared that the ARP requires half of the funding to be used for direct financial relief for students, and the DOE expects more will be allocated for this purpose.
According to the U-M Office of Budget and Planning website, the University has provided over $42 million in emergency grants to over 26,000 students and promises to distribute no less than $44,985,721 of emergency grants. Funding for this relief is provided by HEERF II and III, the former of which is a component of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act from 2021, and the latter of which is the component of the American Rescue Plan.
According to University Spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald, half of the American Rescue Funds – amounting to $64,724,727 – went to student aid for 19,034 students. The remainder of the funds were allocated to pandemic-associated expenses like COVID-19 sampling and tracking.
By receiving the American Rescue Funds, the University is obligated to use some of its institutional funding to reach out to financial aid applicants eligible for financial aid adjustment due to the pandemic. The remaining portion of the American Rescue Funds has yet to be allocated.
Fitzgerald addressed the increase in tuition despite the Emergency Grants received by the University. He wrote the University must increase tuition to offset the decrease in funding from the State over the years.
“… The ARP funds were emergency funds intended to help provide one-time relief in response to extraordinary circumstances,” Fitzgerald wrote. “They have no impact on the day-to-day or year-to-year costs of operating the university. The key reasons for increasing tuition are inflation and the long-term decline in state funding. Since 2001, U-M has become increasingly reliant on tuition to offset a declining share of revenue from the state appropriation, which is lower today than a decade ago.”
The U.S. DOE did not provide any details on future funding after the Build Back Better Plan failed to pass Congress. If approved, the plan was aimed to meet climate goals, create better paying jobs, allow more American people to join the workforce and improve the economy.
Congressman Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, shared during the conference that he will maintain an optimistic point of view despite the current state of the Build Back Better Plan.
“What we’re talking about is what we actually accomplished, not what could have been, should have been, but what we actually accomplished,” Scott said.
Gene Sperling, the White House American Rescue Plan coordinator and senior adviser to the President, concluded the press conference by thanking representatives like Scott for their work in seeking additional funding for education.
“(Leaders) have been bold about making sure that the funding is there,” Sperling said. “It’s one thing to propose we have folks on the Hill that are championing for students, and just think about where we would be as a country if it weren’t for their leadership and if it weren’t for the funding that they passed.”
A previous version of this article did not include information and statistics regarding funding allocation from University Spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald.
Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.