NJ colleges, universities to see $323M federal relief under CARES Act (updated)

Daniel J. Munoz//April 13, 2020

NJ colleges, universities to see $323M federal relief under CARES Act (updated)

Daniel J. Munoz//April 13, 2020

New Jersey’s higher education institutions are getting a combined $323 million in federal funding under the “Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act,” part of a nationwide $6 billion injection from the U.S. Department of Education.

Of the amount going toward New Jersey, public two- and four-year universities will see $238 million, while the remainder was awarded to private colleges, seminaries, and technical and trade schools, according to a joint weekend statement from the offices of U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats.

Half of the money has to go toward student financial aid to cover expenses such as court materials, food, health care and housing, according to the weekend statement.

Universities across New Jersey have found themselves issuing tens of millions of dollars in tuition and dorm refunds, their state aid frozen, and steep cuts in revenue from the loss of parking fees and the cancellations of events, conferences, research and sporting events.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez

The $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus bill comes as the global pandemic grounds both state and nationwide commerce to a halt, and ravages university budgets, as well as state and local tax revenue.

Last month’s bill includes $13 billion earmarked for higher education institutions across the nation.

“Now more than ever, students and their families across New Jersey need our help weathering the economic storm caused by COVID-19,” Menendez said in the statement. “This funding will ensure students receive the assistance they need and that our colleges and universities can continue operating during this crisis

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi.

Rutgers will receive $54 million under the grant awards, though Rutgers President Robert Barchi, whose term ends on June 30, said at a university board of governors meeting last week  that the university has lost upward of $200 million in revenue as a result of the pandemic just in this quarter.

“There is no doubt that the fiscal impact of the response will be larger and more dramatic than any other single event since the Second World War,” Barchi told NJ Advance Media earlier this month. “The financial impact of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak will touch upon every aspect of what we do and how we do it.”

Dory Devlin, a spokesperson for Rutgers, said that $27 million will go toward student financial aid, but maintained that “federal guidance has not been provided nor developed” on the remaining money.

“We appreciate every dollar of federal relief, but broadly speaking, the CARES Act funding levels are woefully short of what needs to be accomplished to help universities,” Devlin said in a statement.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology was awarded an $8 million grant—NJIT President Joel Bloom said that the school is facing a $16 million budget shortfall through June 30.

“This aid clearly will not fill the financial gap that is being created by COVID-19, but the funding is greatly needed and appreciated,” Bloom said in a university-wide letter.

“The negative impact on Fiscal Year 2021, which begins on July 1, is not yet known but is expected to be extremely challenging,” he added.

New Jersey Council of County Colleges President Aaron Fichtner

Montclair State University will receive a $20 million grant, Rowan University will receive a $6.5 million grant, Kean University will receive a $13.5 million grant, Stockton University will receive a $10 million grant and William Paterson University will receive a $9.7 million grant.

New Jersey has 18 community colleges that will see federal funding from this weekend’s announcement, according to New Jersey Council of Community Colleges President Aaron Fichtner.

That includes $8.4 million for Bergen Community College, $8.4 million for Hudson County Community College, $7.3 million for Middlesex County College, $7.3 million for Union County College, $7.8 million for Essex County College and $6.3 million for Brookdale Community College.

“The financial aid grants through the federal CARES Act will assist tens of thousands of community college students in New Jersey with their critical food, health care, housing and other emergency needs,” Fitchner said in the joint statement from the two senators.

As of Sunday, a total of 61,850 New Jerseyans tested positive for COVID-19, which included 2,350 fatalities and 7,604 hospitalizations.

 Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:07 p.m. EST on April 13, 2020 to include comments from Rutgers University spokesperson Dory Devlin. A previous version of this article indicated that half of the federal funding “must go toward student financial aid to cover expenses such as court materials,” but, the funding must go toward student financial aid to cover expenses such as “course materials;” it was updaetd at 4:54 p.m. EST on April 13, 2020.