More than $105 million in federal funding is heading to Maine to help institutions of higher education and their students overcome the financial harm inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency funds for colleges, universities and students will be drawn from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. At least half will go directly into the pockets of students.

Students facing hunger, homelessness and other hardships will be able to apply for emergency cash assistance grants. Institutions will be able to use their shares of the funds to cope with revenue losses tied to the pandemic, and for testing and vaccinations.

“Maine students and institutions of higher learning have faced significant financial hardships due to the pandemic,” Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said in a statement. “This significant educational investment will go a long way to ensure students can get on track and complete their degrees at schools that are operating safely.”

A list of the 27 Maine schools and what they’ll receive was provided by Pingree’s office:

• Bates College: $2,500,489
• Bowdoin College: $2,953,442
• Central Maine Community College: $7,005,701
• Colby College: $3,293,375
• College of the Atlantic: $835,829
• Eastern Maine Community College: $5,208,270
• Husson University: $7,599,587
• Kennebec Valley Community College: $4,198,819
• The Landing School of Boatbuilding and Design: $120,805
• Maine College of Art: $1,292,319
• Maine College of Health Professions: $544,412
• Maine Maritime Academy: $2,250,509
• Maine Media College: $15,486
• Northern Maine Community College: $2,301,587
• Saint Joseph’s College: $2,590,739
• Southern Maine Community College: $11,402,078
• Thomas College: $2,555,214
• Unity College: $1,977,172
• University of Maine: $22,180,539
• University of Maine – Augusta: $5,921,547
• University of Maine  Farmington: $5,925,678
• University of Maine  Fort Kent: $1,992,806
• University of Maine  Presque Isle: $2,261,405
• University of New England: $5,211,619
• University of Southern Maine: $15,137,560
• Washington County Community College: $1,148,774
• York County Community College: $2,400,173

The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday that it would be releasing more than $36 billion from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – the third stream of funding approved for helping schools and students weather the pandemic. The emergency grants will be allocated to more than 5,000 secondary schools nationally, provided that at least half the money allocated to each school goes toward direct financial relief to students.

“These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation’s students – particularly those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate and pursue their careers,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement Tuesday. “With this action, thousands of institutions will be able to provide direct relief to students, who need it most, so we can make sure that we not only recover from the pandemic, but also build back even stronger than before.”

Public and private schools can use the institutional portion of the funding to cover lost revenue, technology expenses associated with distance learning, faculty and staff training, and payroll, according to the education department. Institutions can use the funds to help students with exceptional financial needs linked to job loss or food and housing insecurity. Schools can also use the funds to pay for testing and vaccinations.

The total allocation for the University of Maine system, including USM and UMaine Orono as well as campuses in Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle, totals $53.4 million, according to spokesman Dan Demeritt. Of that amount, about $27 million will go to student aid.

“The pandemic has resulted in more than $100 million in health and safety expenses and lost revenues for Maine’s public universities. It has also disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many of our learners,” Demeritt said in an email. “Importantly, most of the assistance in this latest package will go to helping students. Once the Department of Education makes funds available we will work quickly to process payments.

“The three federal relief packages have not made us whole, but they are incredibly important to maintaining operations without passing on COVID costs to our students and their families,” he said.

David Daigler, president of the Maine Community College System, said the system serves students who typically come from modest or low-income families. Many of those students have suffered financially because of the pandemic, and several students have been allowed to live in dorms because they had nowhere else to go.

“The severity and drastic impact this pandemic has had on our students cannot be understated,” he said. “It is welcome news. These federal funds are desperately needed.”

Daigler said students in need of assistance should contact their campus financial aid office.


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