Oregon’s colleges to get $224 million in COVID-19 relief money, but not enough to close gaps

Oregon’s colleges and universities will get a needed boost from the newest federal COVID-19 relief and omnibus bill signed Dec. 27 by President Donald Trump.

The funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act’s $22.7 billion dedicated to higher education across the U.S. comes at a time when low enrollment and other budget problems are cause for concern for Oregon’s higher education institutions.

Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission estimates $224 million will come to the state from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, anticipating $102 million to public universities, $97 million for community colleges and $28 million for private institutions. It’s not enough to fix the looming budget concerns of many colleges and universities, HECC Executive Director Ben Cannon said. Nearly all of the state’s colleges and universities have seen declines in enrollment, which poses problems as many still rely on tuition for the bulk of revenue. The institutions also have lost revenue from areas such as housing and dining, athletic and parking revenues, he said.

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