COVID-19, Education, Higher Ed

UNC Board of Governors allocating $44.4 million in coronavirus relief funds to campuses

When the UNC Board of Governors meets this morning, the full board will vote on how to allocate $44.4 million  from the Coronavirus Relief Fund created by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The board’s committee on Budget & Finance gave preliminary approval to a slate of allocation recommendations in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The money will go to each of the 17 individual UNC System campuses, with separate line item allocations for the UNC System office, the N.C. Arboretum and $5 million in digital learning enhancements to benefit the system.

Direct funding for each school was capped at $4.5 million, which must be used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in one of four ways:

* Covering costs of moving coursework and exams entirely online during the pandemic
* Implementing a digital learning accelerator
* Sanitation prior to the reopening of campuses and during their operation thereafter (and other necessary and eligible expenses for services during ongoing operations in the pandemic)
* Assistance for students and employees, including counseling and information technology support.

Each allocation was calculated based on requests from the individual schools derived from their costs incurred and their estimated costs through December 2020, with the allocation to each school capped at $4.5 million. Only expenses incurred between March 1, 2020  Dec. 30, 2020 were eligible.

Source: UNC System Office

Under the allocation plan, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and UNC Charlotte, three of the system’s largest schools, would be the only campuses to receive the full $4.5 million. East Carolina University would receive $4.3 million, UNC-Wilmington just over $4 million and Appalachian State University $3.6 million.

Digital learning enhancements for systemwide benefit would get $5 million while the UNC System office and N.C. Arboretum would receive $155,388 and 137,579 respectively.

The largest allocations went to schools that had incurred significant expenses already. N.C. State, for instance, has already incurred about $4.4 million in expenses since March 1.

N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson explained that some of the system’s larger schools also operate medical schools and other large operations that have been ongoing, even while students have not been physically on campus.

“There are other things that we do that are very independent of the student population,” Woodson said.

The full UNC Board of Governors meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday and will tackle a variety of pandemic related issue from the plans for students to return to campuses for the Fall semester to the financial challenges posed by the pandemic, its effects and the related coming recession.

The public can follow the meeting live via video conference here.

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