Federal pandemic funding keeps UND out of debt

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October 30 – UND has received millions of dollars under various federal COVID relief programs that have been used to support the school and keep it from going into debt, while also helping students.

Funding initially came from the CARES Act in March 2020, and then continued at the end of the year with the Additional Appropriations for Coronavirus Response and Relief Act. Together, UND has received over $ 51 million through the programs, which have varying degrees of flexibility in how the money can be spent. According to Jed Shivers, vice president of finance and operations at UND, the funds have bolstered schools’ finances at a time when universities across the country have seen their sources of income dry up.

“We could have spent all the money we had in reserve quite quickly throughout this process, so that really stopped us from doing that,” Shivers said.

The first round of financing came from the allocation by the State of the financing of the CARES law. UND has received nearly $ 21 million, all of which has been used for pandemic mitigation. These costs include air conditioning and air quality improvements on campus, which alone amounted to $ 6.5 million. Other costs included the technology for the transfer to a $ 5 million hybrid education model and $ 1.8 million in personal protective equipment, among others.

In fiscal 2021, UND suffered a loss of revenue of more than $ 22 million. The amount was calculated using a recommended federal formula that compares 2021 revenues to the average revenues for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019. First, the loss of sports revenues, which amounted to $ 6.8 million, followed by restoration, with $ 5.6 million. and housing with $ 3.8 million.

Shivers said Governor Doug Burgum and the legislature recognized the need to shift funding to universities.

“I cannot stress enough how important the state is in this process, they’ve really shown tremendous leadership,” Shivers said of the state’s allocation of funds to NDUS institutions.

Additional funding with more flexible terms arrived when the CRRSA law was passed in December 2020. These funds, known as the Higher Education Emergency Assistance Fund or HEERF, were deployed in three installments. HEERF funds have enabled the university to help students, as well as to compensate for lost income and to cover operating expenses. In FY2021, UND spent $ 5.4 million in student aid. An additional $ 10 million will be spent on students in fiscal year 2022.

When it came to providing financial aid to students, HEERF funds paid for a number of things including personal computers when students were required to study online. Scholarships were also available for students, although they were limited to undergraduates who met certain conditions.

More than 6,000 students have received emergency financial aid grants through September 30. The grants prioritized low-income students eligible for Pell scholarships, students who used the UND pantry, and students in need, among others. Grants ranged from $ 550 to $ 1,100.

UND will spend around $ 12 million of its HEERF funds in FY2022 on additional pandemic mitigation efforts, operating costs and to make up for lost revenue. Shivers said it was important to keep these funds in reserve.

“We need to make sure that we have enough dollars in reserves to deal with any potential economic effects that may arise, as we go through what we consider to be the great second wave of the pandemic,” he said. .

The funds have prevented the UND from taking on debt to survive the continuing pandemic.

“If you look across the country, you have state universities that have to take out loans to get through that,” Shivers said. “It’s something we didn’t have to do.”


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