May 08, 2020

Congressman Neguse, Colorado Delegation Members Call for Additional Financial Support for Higher Education Institutions and Students

Colorado’s institutions of higher learning are facing a financial shortfall of $274 million related to COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse led a bipartisan bicameral letter to House and Senate Leadership signed by Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Cory Gardner, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressman Ed Perlmutter and Congressman Jason Crow. The letter requests $47 billion in additional funding for institutions of higher learning and students to address financial shortcomings related to COVID-19, as well as $26 billion for research. The letter also requests that this emergency higher education funding be split between students (through need-based financial aid and direct support for tuition, room and board, and fees) and campuses, higher education centers, and institutions of higher education and requests direct assistance to institutions serving rural communities most impacted by the pandemic given their critical and unique role in the state’s local and regional economies.

In the letter, Congressman Neguse noted that even after much-needed financial relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Colorado’s higher education institutions alone still face a shortfall of $274 million for the remainder of the academic year. These institutions anticipate additional revenue declines in the years ahead due to disruptions to enrollment, research, auxiliary services, and predicted state budget shortfalls.

“Colorado is fortunate to have a diverse array of community colleges, technical schools, research institutions, and public and private colleges that have served our constituents for decades,” said Congressman Neguse. “Colorado’s colleges and universities play an essential role in our state, contributing more than $20 billion to Colorado’s economy and providing students with the skills and training they need to be contributing members to our workforce and communities. Our institutions of higher education are also the largest employers throughout our state, and on the forefront of the nation’s most cutting-edge research, including a treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19. We must ensure the survival of these valuable institutions and provide for the financial needs of the students that have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and desperately need our help.”

“The COVID-19 outbreak has further exacerbated the financial challenges facing our institutions of higher education. Decades of underinvestment have placed them in a precarious financial position – and on top of that, they’re now enduring the staggering costs of responding to the virus and taking care of their students and employees,” said Senator Bennet. “While the CARES Act provided some relief for Colorado’s students and higher education institutions, it wasn’t nearly enough. That’s why we’re calling on Congressional leadership to prioritize emergency higher education funding so that our schools and students can weather this crisis.”

“Our institutions of higher education and their students are facing challenges from COVID-19,” said Senator Gardner. “I’m proud to have supported the CARES Act, which provided millions to Colorado to support our colleges, universities and students, but we must provide Colorado’s students and higher education institutions additional financial support during this critical time. That includes additional support for student financial aid and our universities’ scientific research and development initiatives.”

“U.S. higher education institutions are a substantial economic and employment sector that spans red and blue states, bridges the urban-rural divide, and engages small communities and urban centers,” said Tony Frank, chancellor of the Colorado State University System. “The CARES Act funding is appreciated but only covered a small fraction of university expenses related to COVID-19. Without additional federal support, and in the face of dramatic state budget challenges, the entire system is at risk. We greatly appreciate Congressman Neguse’s leadership and support for higher education.”

“Higher education is critical not only to a robust economic recovery, but also to improving the lives and creating opportunity,” said University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy. “We greatly appreciate that Rep. Neguse and others in the Colorado congressional delegation recognize that and we applaud their efforts to advocate for this critical funding so we can continue to contribute to economic health and individual opportunity.”

In the letter, Congressman Neguse noted that over the next three years, Colorado is forecasting a $7 billion state budget shortfall. This financial stress will put public colleges and universities at risk of additional severe and devastating budget cuts.

View text of the letter here.