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Delaware earmarks CARES Act dollars for the state's colleges and universities

Delaware Public Media

The state of Delaware is giving a chunk of its federal coronavirus relief funding to local colleges and universities.

The $45 million Higher Education Relief Fund will be split amongst seven higher education institutions in the First State.

It must be used for expenses related to the pandemic, including things like personal protective equipment, tele-services technology and costs related to screening for COVID-19.

Gov. John Carney made the announcement Tuesday.

“We have decided to use $45 million of CARES Act funding to support our institutions of higher education here in Delaware," said Carney. "We’ve been talking about that for several weeks now. They’ve lost considerable revenue as students were not on campus. Their enrollments were down.”     

The funds must be spent by the end of the year.

Funding higher education during the pandemic as a means to avoid tuition increases or reduction in student loans and grants was one of the recommendations from Delaware’s Pandemic Resurgence Advisory Committee.

University of Delaware president Dennis Assanis told a state budegt hearing earlier this month that UD expects to lose an additional $60 million every semester COVID still plagues the state, and anticipates a deficit of up to $288 million for the 2021 fiscal year.  But he said at that time the school was not asking for a substanial increase in state funding in FY 2022. 

UD has already enacted layoffs and furloughs to cut costs.  It has also implemented pay cuts and reduced employees hours, offered voluntary retirement programs, and trimmed retirement contributions.

The full list of eligble expenses the state's Higher Education Relief Fund allocations can be use for are:

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Equipment purchased to make buildings suitable for COVID-19 safety (plexi-glass, air purifiers, etc.)
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting services
  • Expenses for technical assistance on mitigation of COVID-19 related threats
  • Costs incurred to conduct enhanced screenings for employees and students
  • Technology and tele-services needed to adjust to COVID-19 response
  • Signage necessary because of the pandemic
  • Marketing and media expenses incurred to respond to COVID-19