by Annette Quintana, CEO Istonish
The 2020 CARES Act Higher Education Relief Fund, provides substantial funding to Institutions of Higher education (IHE’s) to offset the impacts of the COVID pandemic. A portion of which can be used to fund technology costs associated with the shift to remote learning. This change has stretched both the faculty and technical infrastructure to new extremes. The purpose of this blog is to provide a high-level snapshot of the funding.
Before we dive into this, I’d like to let you know that I have personally read the entire CARES Act – all 880 pages, and additional articles which offer guidance and clarification on the original legislation. As a citizen and CEO, I wanted to understand how our government is spending money to address COVID-19 issues. I have a particular interest in education, which was initially fostered by my Educator parents, but later included funding scholarships, coordinating community efforts to build a talent pipeline, and engage under-served populations in the technology economy. I strongly believe that a good education is essential for our communities’ social and economic well-being and have taken actions to advocate for educational opportunities.
And in the case of the changes brought about by COVID-19, I believe that technology is a critical factor in navigating these uncharted waters successfully.
Let’s begin with the outlook of potential scenarios for Fall 2020, of which there are several possibilities, as noted in this article from Inside Higher Ed. Because every IHE has its unique challenges based on budgets, the mix of students, existing online curriculum, and other programs, the way forward will look different for all. For simplification and the purpose of this article, I’m highlighting three possible scenarios.
If you’re interested in reading more of the details, I’ve included a link to this report from McKinsey & Company – Coronavirus: How should US higher education plan for an uncertain future?
The three Fall 2020 scenarios are:
1. In-person instruction Fall 2020: 3-11% reduction in revenue reflecting enrollment reductions
2. Distance learning in Fall 2020: in-person in the spring semester: reflecting 10-17% revenue reduction
3. Distance learning over the entire fall 2020 through spring 2021 academic year: reflecting 17-27% revenue reduction
Even the most favorable Fall 2020 scenario reflects fewer students. So, what factors may be influencing these assumptions, and how can technology assist?
‘COVID Adapted Social Distancing’ guidelines will affect the need for IHE quarantine facilities and reduced density housing and classrooms, among other protocols. All of these arrangements demand that technology complement traditional teaching methods and group activity.
Campuses did a good job of rapidly moving toward ‘remote education delivery’ in March of 2020 to implement a quick fix. In that process, many IHE organizations experienced technology gaps.
Technology gaps include but are not limited to:
• Inadequate bandwidth
• Insufficient remote tools
• Curriculum or collaboration platform licensing constraints
• Challenges with the existing security posture
• Insufficient IT support
These technology gaps need to be addressed to support Students, Faculty, and Staff with the aim of keeping them healthy and ensuring effective education delivery.
Learn how Istonish can provide cost effective and secure technology support so that Educators can do what they best.
The CARES Act anticipated that Higher Ed organizations would need support to accommodate for COVID protocols. Approximately $14 Billion was allocated to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund with another $3 Billion to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
The CAREs Act defines specific formulas stipulating how much each State and their respective institutions are eligible to receive as follows:
• 90% allocated to individual institutions based upon existing Title IV funding models
• 5% to Minority Serving Institutions
• 5% to smaller institutions with ‘the greatest unmet need related to Coronavirus’
IHE’s are advised to review the data that has been posted on your State’s website. There you can learn more detailed information about the CARES Act allocation to your State and your institution.
The following link to the US Department of Education provides additional information.
Once Federal funds are directly allocated to institutions; the IHE must use a minimum of 50% for direct payments to students in the form of emergency financial aid. The other 50% must be used for expenditures incurred due to the pandemic. Conditions associated with the institutional use of the remaining 50% of funds include:
- Maintaining staffing patterns and honoring contracts but cannot be used for administrative salaries
- Expenses to facilitate distance learning in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions, including:
- Technological improvements, including but not limited to hardware, software, and internet connections
- Curriculum development, professional development for educators, online learning materials, and student outreach and support
- Payroll and benefit costs of educational support staff or faculty responsible for developing online learning capabilities necessary to continue educational instruction in response to COVID-19 related school closures
- Technology and technological support necessary to participate in distance learning in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions
I believe that a good education is important for the social and economic well-being of our communities. Now is the time to rise to the challenge. Annette Quintana
As I shared at the beginning of this article, I believe that a good education is important for the social and economic well-being of our communities. COVID-19 presents immense challenges for IHE’s to navigate, including budget gaps to the safety and well-being of faculty and students to the very essence of teaching and thus our future.
Armed with a fabulous education from Colorado State University, I founded Istonish 30 years ago with the idea of using technology to help organizations thrive and succeed in their endeavors. With so much at stake, this is a time to rise to the challenge. I know first-hand the power of technology combined with caring and smart talent to achieve groundbreaking results.
Our experience in serving educational and public clients provides an innate understanding to help IHE’s solve COVID-19 challenges for today and tomorrow. Contact me now if you would like to start a conversation.
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