Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on COVID-19 Relief Package Higher Education Funding
December 21, 2020

​“Since the onset of the pandemic in March, colleges and universities nationwide have moved swiftly to adapt to a continually evolving public health emergency, with student and staff safety as the top priorities. Those efforts have been consistently hampered by a significant decline in the resources available to institutions, coupled with the massive new expenses campuses are incurring. Since approval of the CARES Act in March, there has been no additional federal relief, further exacerbating the existential crisis facing higher education institutions and the entire country as students and families struggle with the health, financial, and emotional toll from the pandemic.

That is why it is disappointing that Congress has arrived, finally, at a compromise on further COVID-19 relief that is wholly inadequate to meet the needs of students and colleges and universities. As we have detailed in a recent letter to congressional leaders signed by more than 100 associations, the situation currently facing America’s colleges and universities is a crisis of almost unimaginable magnitude. At least $120 billion in additional relief is needed just to begin to meet the needs of students and their families wrestling with lost or reduced wages and campuses dealing with a massive, accumulated loss of revenue that is likely to grow worse in the near future, and in most areas will persist for several years. Already, the pandemic has forced too many students off the path to a postsecondary degree and risks a lost generation of low-income students after decades of hard-won progress toward increasing access to higher education.

The money provided in this bill will provide some limited relief, which is welcome news to struggling students and institutions. 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. That is why we strongly urge the Biden administration and the new Congress to provide sufficient additional COVID-19 assistance for students and institutions in the new year, and we stand ready to work with the administration and lawmakers to get this done.”

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