UT-Austin could get about $85 million in latest federal COVID-19 relief, at least half of funds must go to student aid

Skye Seipp

UT could receive about $85.1 million in federal COVID-19 aid from the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed into law on March 11, according to the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities. Half of the money — approximately $42.5 million — must be used as student emergency funds, according to the bill.

Higher education institutions received nearly $39.6 billion of the $1.9 trillion ARP Act, according to the bill. Combined with the previous two COVID-19 relief bills, UT will have received nearly $164.48 million in federal aid since the pandemic began.

The Department of Education has still not released the final allocations for higher education institutions, but Veronica Treviño, media manager for financial and administrative services communications, said the University is expecting to receive about $85 million.

Student aid from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which passed in December and allocated nearly $48.4 million with $15.7 million for student aid to UT, has still not been made available. Treviño said the University received the funds on March 16.

Kathleen Harrison, communications manager for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, said UT is working to distribute the funds to eligible students by mid-April. Aid will be given directly to students through either their direct deposit or a check and is nonrecurring, she said.

“The University is working quickly to ready the process to disburse funds to eligible students with exceptional need according to federal regulations,” Harrison said in an email.

UT does not know how it will spend the 50% of the money not reserved for student aid from the ARP Act, Treviño said. She did not comment on when UT expects to receive the money or when the funds would be made available.

“The University has neither received the funds nor the accompanying use guidelines from the federal government,” Treviño said in an email.

Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said in a March 10 statement that while the money will be “enormously helpful” for students and colleges, it wasn’t enough. He said the council estimates colleges would need at least another $57 billion in relief.

“There remain many pressing problems, including students and families struggling to cope with lost jobs or reduced wages and colleges and universities battered by steep declines in revenues and soaring new expenses,” Mitchell said.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 26 issue of The Daily Texan.