ASU announces distribution plans for additional emergency relief funds

The University will use $134 million toward providing students financial aid and $170 million for institutional support

On Friday, ASU released its disbursement plans for the combined $305 million it received from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund under the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act

Under requirements from the federal government, at least $134 million of the funding the University received must be used for emergency financial aid grants to students. The funds are set to be distributed during the 2021-22 academic year, and ASU estimates the sum will serve around 36,000 students.

The other $170 million will be used by the University to support itself and make up for financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an ASU spokesperson.

According to a University update on the Novel Coronavirus FAQ page, $71 million will go to over 15,000 students who demonstrate financial need, including members of the College Attainment Grant and President Barack Obama Scholars programs. According to the update, aid to these program recipients would have likely decreased due to COVID-19 financial ramifications without the federal help. 

Another $48 million will go to about 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students who do not currently receive institutional aid from the University during the 2021-22 school year.  

$10 million will go to over 8,000 Summer 2021 students, and $5 million will help “students and families whose financial circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19,” which will help approximately 3,000 students, according to the update. 

The funding will be applied directly to students' accounts, and the grants will range from $100 to $6,000 depending on a student's circumstances, Katie Paquet, vice president of media relations, said in an email.

Aside from the portion of funding used for direct student aid, ASU will be using around $170 million of the total funds to support ASU’s operations and help pay expenses it incurred during the pandemic, Paquet said in another email. 

A total of $75 million will replace revenue the University lost due to the pandemic. Approximately $60 million will go to replacing the lost revenue from “auxiliary service sources” like dining, housing and parking operations. The remaining $15 million will replace the money lost from tuition and fees, according to the email. 

An estimated $40 million of the institutional aid will be used for equipment, software or staff associated with distance learning. It also includes expenses for technological enhancements, upgrades and equipment for ASU Sync. 

Because the University has announced plans to return to pre-pandemic operations in the fall, most of the costs associated with ASU Sync are from previous use. Some of the funds are going to support ASU Sync usage from this summer as well as ongoing software costs in case the University moves back to a hybrid or remote model because of the pandemic, Paquet said.

Another $40 million will be used to support campus operations and safety measures, including the construction of outdoor learning spaces that encourage social distancing, cleaning measures, COVID-19 testing and vaccine implementation and contact tracing.

The University will be using around $5 million to cover the cost of technology hardware like laptops and tablets that were provided to students through the laptop loaner program.

The plan for usage of the federal funding comes two months after the University’s initial announcement of receiving $191 million from the ARP Act. Just under $113 million of the $305 million the University will use comes from CRRSA Act, which was signed into law in December 2020.

In March 2020, ASU received $63.5 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the first of what is now three relief packages aimed to help economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately half of that sum, $31.7 million, went to student aid

At the end of 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey granted ASU $46 million for additional COVID-19 support from the state's CARES act funds.

UA has already disbursed over $4 million of its $42.2 million designated for student emergency relief from the ARP Act by sending direct aid to students, along with opening an emergency fund application. 

NAU received $66 million from the ARP Act and over $37.5 million from the CRRSA Act. The university has distributed funds from the latter act since the start of 2021 and will continue to do so into the fall, but it has not announced any plans for distributing funds from the former act.


Reach the reporter at alcamp12@asu.edu and follow @Anna_Lee_Camp on Twitter.

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