McEachin and Virginia Universities Urge House and Senate Leadership to Provide an Additional $47 Billion in COVID-19 Relief for Students and Universities

April 16, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today authored a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging an additional $47 billion in emergency funding for students and institutions of higher education due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-signed by Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Don Beyer (VA-08), and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Congressman McEachin’s request follows a letter received last week from the Council of Presidents, a consortium of twenty-two Virginia universities. In their letter to the Virginia Congressional Delegation, the Council of Presidents requested additional funding and support to help their institutions of higher education navigate the significant financial challenges imposed by the 2019 novel coronavirus crisis.

“Universities in Virginia are already feeling the significant and ever-growing financial impacts of this crisis,” wrote Congressman McEachin in the letter. “Absent significant additional financial support from Congress, many institutions will face the prospect of immediate layoffs, devastating budget cuts, program eliminations, and possible closures.“

The letter cites dire financial projections from a number of Virginia universities due to the pandemic, including:

  • More than $50 million in costs to Virginia Commonwealth University, including at least $13 million principally due to lost revenue in the form of refunds or credits to students; 
  • An estimated $31.5 million impact for Spring 2020 at Virgina Tech due to the loss of planned or collected revenue for housing, dining and other services, and continued expenditures for health and safety preventative measures; 
  • More than $50 million in lost revenue at George Mason University due to cuts in research, a decline in expected enrollment, cancelled events, and more; 
  • An anticipated $20 million in losses by the University of Virginia from housing and dining rebates over the spring semester;
  • A projected financial impact of between $13 and $32 million for William & Mary resulting from refunded tuition, room and board, as well as increased virtual learning expenditures;
  • A nearly $38 million  fiscal impact to James Madison University as a result of refunds for housing and dining, declines in fundraising and endowment value, loss of sports revenue, and more;
  • More than $20 million in lost revenue expected by Old Dominion University and $5 million in additional operating costs; 
  • More than $33 million in pandemic-related costs to Virginia State University, including an expectect decline in enrollment of 25 percent; and
  • Between $20 to $27 million in losses projected by Virginia Union University associated with housing, dining, refunds for tuition, cuts in research, decline in expected enrollment, cancelled events, increases in technology expenditure for remote learning and decreases in fundraising resulting from complications of COVID-19.

 

While Congress allocated $14.25 billion in emergency relief for institutions of higher education in the landmark CARES Act, several leading higher education associations, including the American Council on Education and the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, estimate that more than $50 billion in total funding is needed to keep institutions financially stable over the next six months. The challenges these institutions are facing have impacts beyond their campuses: colleges and universities are often the largest employers in communities, and drivers of local economies, including through innovative research and development.

 "We thank Reps. McEachin, Beyer, Connolly, and Wexton for their leadership in pushing for more federal support for higher education during this unprecedented time,” said Karol Kain Gray, Senior Vice President and CFO, Virginia Commonwealth University. “We cannot allow our students and health care workers to bear the brunt of the economic impact of this pandemic. Additional federal support is critical so that we can continue with our public mission of educating Virginia's students, caring for Virginia's patients and, as Richmond's largest employer, serving the Richmond region as an economic engine."

“We are grateful for the funding Congress has already allocated for institutions of higher education, including $14.25 billion in higher education emergency relief included in the CARES Act,” the letter continued. “While this recently passed stimulus provides a much-needed lifeline to our institutions of higher education, much more is needed to ensure financial solvency and to prevent future potential closures. Failing to provide this critical funding and ensuring that it is dispersed as quickly as possible to the institutions with the greatest need would have catastrophic consequences for state and local economies.”

 

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Full Letter Text

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Leader Hoyer, and Leader McCarthy, 

Thank you for your continued leadership during this unprecedented national crisis to help families and communities across the country, particularly with the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As you continue to work on future COVID-19 relief legislation, we urge robust emergency aid to students and financial support for institutions of higher education. 

Institutions of higher education throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the country have taken rapid steps to ensure the safety and success of their students, faculty, and staff in response to the spread of COVID-19. Many institutions have provided significant housing and dining refunds to students, established emergency funds for students facing hardship, moved classes online, implemented telework for employees, provided housing for otherwise homeless students, and cancelled countless scheduled contracts and events. While these critical actions have helped save lives, they come at a significant financial cost, as institutions are facing unprecedented cash flow challenges. Many institutions anticipate drastic decreased summer and fall enrollment as a result of this global pandemic. 

Absent significant additional financial support from Congress, many institutions will face the prospect of immediate layoffs, devastating budget cuts, program eliminations, and possible closures. The challenges these institutions are facing have impacts beyond their campuses: colleges and universities are often the largest employers in communities and drivers of local economies, including through innovative research and development. 

Universities in Virginia are already feeling the significant and ever-growing financial impacts of this crisis. Virginia Commonwealth University projects more than $50 million in costs in the coming months, including at least $13 million principally due to lost revenue in the form of refunds or credits to students; Virginia Tech estimates a $31.5 million impact for the Spring semester alone due to the loss of planned or collected revenue for housing, dining and other services, and continued expenditures for health and safety preventative measures; George Mason University has calculated costs of more than $50 million in lost revenue due to cuts in research, a decline in expected enrollment, cancelled events, and more; the University of Virginia anticipates $20 million in losses from housing and dining rebates over the spring semester alone; William & Mary projects a financial impact between $13 and $32 million as a result of refunds for tuition and room and board, as well as increased technology expenditures for virtual learning; James Madison University estimates the fiscal impact of the pandemic to be nearly $38 million as a result of refunds for housing and dining, declines in fundraising and the value of their endowment, loss of sports revenue, and more; and Old Dominion University expects more than $20 million in lost revenue and an additional $5 million in related costs. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other Minority-Serving Institutions, many of which already face significant financial difficulties, are experiencing similar challenges. Virginia State University, one of Virginia's two land-grant institutions, estimates more than $33 million in costs, including an expected decline in enrollment of nearly 25 percent; and Virginia Union University projects more than $20 to $27 million in losses associated with housing, dining, refunds for tuition, cuts in research, declines in expected enrollment, cancelled events, increases in technology expenditures for remote learning, and decreases in fundraising. Direct federal funding is desperately needed to help these institutions address revenue losses and expenses resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.  

We are grateful for the funding Congress has already allocated for institutions of higher education, including $14.25 billion in higher education emergency relief included in the CARES Act. While this recently passed stimulus provides a much-needed lifeline to our institutions of higher education, much more is needed to ensure financial solvency and to prevent future potential closures. The American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and many other leading higher education associations estimate that more than $50 billion in total funding is needed to keep institutions financially stable over the next six months. Failing to provide this critical funding and ensuring that it is dispersed as quickly as possible to the institutions with the greatest need would have catastrophic consequences for state and local economies. 

To ensure sufficient support for institutions of higher education and their students, we urge an additional $47 billion in direct emergency relief for students and institutions in forthcoming coronavirus relief legislation. 

We stand ready to work with you, and thank you for your consideration of this urgent request.

Sincerely, 

A. Donald McEachin 
Member of Congress 

Gerald E. Connolly         Donald S. Beyer Jr.        Jennifer Wexton 
Member of Congress     Member of Congress     Member of Congress 

 

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Ralph M. Jones, Jr., Communications Director

U.S. Representative A. Donald McEachin (VA-04)
C: 202.802.1721

ralph.jones@mail.house.gov