Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding the Senate agreement on a third COVID-19 emergency supplemental bill.
“Over the past several weeks, public university presidents and chancellors have been working tirelessly to communicate with Congress on the need for emergency relief. We appreciate that the agreed upon bill evolved from its initial form, which included no direct funding to students and universities, to then $6 billion, and now a minimum of $14 billion for all of higher education with the possibility for some additional funds at the discretion of states. We are grateful that the measure provides much-needed regulatory relief, which will grant schools flexibility to support students in irregular circumstances.
“However, the $14 billion provided for higher education falls far short of what is needed. Furthermore, the legislation does not fix the terrible problem the second emergency supplemental funding bill created for state entities in which, unlike the private sector, they were excluded from receiving tax credits to offset expenses associated with extended paid leave.
“The legislation provides $1.3 billion for research and related efforts to combat COVID-19. This is a much-needed infusion of funding that will advance COVID-19 research already underway at public universities and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the bill does not provide funding to help pay for graduate students, post-docs and others who can’t get into the lab as well as to, among other things, pay for winding down and eventually ramping up research activity.
“Our nation’s public colleges and universities educate more than three-quarters of students and in many cases are one of, if not the largest employer in their states. Despite the most challenging of circumstances, public universities are rising to serve their campus and local communities, states, and the nation. In recent weeks public universities have been working in their communities to address areas of need ranging from donating medical supplies, to hosting blood drives, and educating the public on steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. And those institutions with hospitals have been on the front lines of treating COVID-19 patients.
“The impact of COVID-19 is being felt in every corner of this country and the world. Public colleges and universities, which collectively educate 19.4 million students and employ 2.3 million faculty and staff, are directly impacted personally and financially by the coronavirus. Public higher education institutions are facing a huge financial hit from the virus. There is a desperate need for emergency funding to financially stabilize schools, aid and educate students, support the university workforce, and maintain a robust scientific enterprise, which is at the forefront of searching for cures and treatments.
“Despite the problems with the bill, we are immensely grateful to the lawmakers who over the last week have tirelessly gone to bat for students and our nation’s public universities. We will need their continued help. While the bill is vastly improved over the first version, the financial emergency facing colleges and universities demands so much more to stabilize institutions, support students, employees, and scientific research.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on public health and our economy. This bill was massive, but it’s all but certain Congress will need to do even more. It’s critical that colleges and universities and their students receive much more robust support as future legislation is developed.”