UT-Austin set to receive more than $48 million in federal COVID-19 relief

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Photo Credit: Megan Fletcher | Daily Texan Staff

UT-Austin will receive about $48.38 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed by the United States Congress last month. The Act requires $15.73 million be used as student emergency aid.

The CRRSAA Act totaled nearly $900 billion, with $21.2 billion available for institutions of higher education. Amounts for each school were determined by a formula based on the number of Pell Grant recipients and non-Pell Grant recipients as well as how many students were enrolled in distance learning before the pandemic. The UT System will receive about $290.64 million in total, UT System spokesperson Karen Adler said. 

The University will use $32.65 million to cover losses caused by the pandemic, including technology, training for faculty and staff and payroll, Veronica Treviño, media manager for Financial and Administrative Services, said in an email. She said the funds should be available to UT within the next few weeks. 

“The University is thoroughly reviewing the provisions and requirements of the allocation program, including student aid requirements and applicability,” Treviño said. “Allocation decisions and guidance will continue to roll out throughout the next few months.”

UT estimated it will lose $103 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2021, according to a COVID-19 costs survey obtained by The Daily Texan, prepared by UT budget director John McGeady in December. According to the document, the projected loss does not include athletics, and estimations could change due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. 

Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said in a statement after the latest COVID-19 relief act that the bill was “wholly inadequate to meet the needs of students and colleges and universities.” He said another $120 billion would be required to meet the needs of institutions. 

“The money provided in this bill will provide some limited relief, which is welcome news to struggling students and institutions,” Mitchell said. “But it is not going to be nearly enough in the long run or even the medium term. The financial impact of the pandemic and its economic fallout will be enormous, with more than half a million job losses on campuses already.”

The University is receiving $17 million more from the CRRSAA Act than from the CARES Act, which provided UT Austin with $31 million. 

Psychology sophomore Favour Unegbu is one of the 19,524 UT students who have taken advantage of the emergency funds. Unegbu said she received $1,500 last spring and $500 in the fall. 

Unegbu said the pandemic caused her to lose shifts at her work-study job at the Trinity Garage. She said she has been forced to rely on loans to cover expenses, and she might not have enough money to cover her last two months of rent.

“I’ll be hoping for … a higher amount given to students like myself going through what I’m going through or even worse than what I’m going through,” Unegbu said. “I’m really not trying to take on any more in loans or put this stress onto other family members because they’ve already helped me a lot.”