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Pandemic-related government funding totaled $13.2M per college, S&P finds

Pandemic-related government funding totaled $13.2M per college, S&P finds

Higher Ed Dive

Rick Seltzer
June 7, 2022
Dive Brief:
  • The median college received $13.2 million in government relief funding over the course of the pandemic, according to a report from S&P Global Ratings that explores just how significantly public money buoyed higher ed institutions.
  • Emergency government funding accounted for over 4% of adjusted operating revenue at more than 30% of colleges in fiscal 2021, S&P found. The figures cover a majority of the 448 institutions whose debt S&P rates.
  • While almost all colleges received public relief money, it was more important for those with low bond ratings — the colleges under the most financial pressure. That’s notable because the bulk of the funding is now ending, increasing colleges’ exposure to market stresses like inflation and declining enrollment.
Dive Insight:
S&P had given the nonprofit higher ed sector negative outlooks for four straight years before raising its view to stable in 2022, in part because of federal relief funding.
Three federal coronavirus relief bills provided higher ed with a total of about $75 billion. Much of the money had to be routed to students, but colleges received almost $40 billion in institutional funds.
Certain groups of institutions received more money than others. Historically Black colleges and universities got an additional $3 billion on top of the money set aside for all institutions, and minority-serving institutions received an extra $1 billion.
Among colleges whose debt S&P rates, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provided a median $2 million per institution, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was worth $4 million, and the American Rescue Plan provided $5 million.
But colleges also received other government pandemic relief funding.
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