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Ky. Colleges and Universities Will Avoid State Budget Cuts Thanks to CARES Act

Kentucky colleges and universities will avoid state budget cuts this fiscal year while also receiving $20 million in federal relief to help cover costs related to COVID-19.

The allocation is part of $1.6 billion in federal funding that Kentucky received this year through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. State budget officials are seeking to divide the funds as proportionally as possible based on each institution’s share of state funding.

“My administration puts education first, and sending CARES Act funding to support higher education is crucial as they continue to battle COVID-19 while educating Kentuckians in new and innovative ways,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Access to CARES Act funding has been critical for education, public health, local governments, schools, long-term care facilities. These funds provide direct relief to Kentuckians while also boosting the wider economy and supporting a balanced budget as these dollars get spent locally.”

Aaron Thompson, head of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, in a news release, praised the governor’s commitment to higher education and thanked Kentucky’s federal delegation for their efforts in securing federal relief for the state.

“Higher education is helping lead our economic recovery, and these funds will shore up our colleges and universities at a vital time,” Thompson said. “COVID-19 has taken a considerable toll on campuses and students just when our state workforce is struggling the most. I appreciate the support of our elected officials who continue to fight for our economic future by standing up for postsecondary institutions.”

State budget officials are revising guidelines for the relief funds and asking each institution to submit updated applications.

Last week, CPE officials told a state budget review subcommittee that the pandemic’s impact on campus budgets is expected to total $300 million by the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The transition to online learning, the need for testing and cleaning supplies, and refunds for housing, dining, and parking have all driven up costs. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has also driven steep declines in revenue.

Campuses have responded to the budget imbalance by furloughing and laying off staff, eliminating positions and postponing capital maintenance, among other strategies. Before the latest round of funds, campuses also received about $70 million in federal relief to help offset the pandemic’s impact.

-Staff report

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