Claremont Colleges to receive $4 million from coronavirus aid bill

The Claremont Colleges will receive more than $4 million from the federal government to help reduce economic hardship created by COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The funds were secured through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) — the largest economic relief package in U.S. history — which President Donald Trump signed into law last month. The money comes as endowments have dropped, budgets are being slashed and hiring has been frozen at some of the Claremont Colleges.

Pomona College, which has said it’s already spent $6 million to $7 million in COVID-related expenses, will receive the highest amount of all 7Cs — more than $1.2 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The exact amounts are as follows:

  • Pomona: $1,285,644
  • Claremont McKenna College: $855,579
  • Pitzer College: $625,861
  • Scripps College: $546,083
  • Harvey Mudd College: $516,332
  • Claremont Graduate University: $295,107
  • Keck Graduate Institute: $189,117

At least 50 percent of the money must be allocated to emergency financial aid grants for students and can be used to cover food, housing, course materials, health care and childcare, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a news release April 9. This money will become available first, and the rest will follow at a later date.

“We are prioritizing this funding stream in order to get money in the hands of students in need as quickly as possible,” she said.

The colleges have “significant discretion” on how to distribute the grants, though DeVos suggests considering a limit of $6,195 per student, the equivalent of a maximum Pell Grant. Undocumented students are ineligible for the funds.

“I would like to encourage the leadership of each institution to prioritize your students with the greatest need, but at the same time consider establishing a maximum funding threshold for each student to ensure that these funds are distributed as widely as possible,” she said.

To access the funds reserved for students, the schools must agree to the conditions and fill out a form online, DeVos said, adding that her department is “working expeditiously to allocate the remaining funding that is reserved for institutional use.”

The total amount of money awarded to each college was based 75 percent on its Pell Grant recipients and 25 percent on its undergraduate and graduate enrollment, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Last week, CMC said it submitted the online form but had yet to receive the money. The college was waiting on more guidance from the federal government, which came out on Tuesday, before making any decisions on how to allocate it, according to spokesperson Gilien Silsby.

“With the proper details in hand, the President’s Executive Cabinet will review a variety of strategies to maximize the use of the funds for CMC students,” Silsby said in an email to TSL.

Pitzer, which was still waiting on the funds last week, said students will not need to directly apply for the aid. 

“Pitzer is working diligently in the best interest of our students, particularly those students who are most financially impacted during this time,” spokesperson Anna Chang said via email. 

Any remaining money from the CARES Act has already been spent on student travel support, staff pay and student payouts, according to Chang. 

Ultimately, the federal grant will cover less than 10 percent of Pitzer’s initial COVID-related costs, she said. The school plans to apply for other federal grants for which it’s eligible.

Pomona expects to receive the aid in a few weeks and is currently deciding how to divide it among students, President G. Gabrielle Starr said in an email Wednesday. They plan to distribute the money by the end of May.

KGI also has yet to receive its funds, according to vice president of finance and operations Michael Jones. Once it does, the school will determine the most equitable way to allocate them. KGI will wait for further guidance to make decisions regarding the remaining money, Jones said.

As of last week, Scripps likewise hadn’t received the funds or determined how the money will be allocated, according to spokesperson Rachael Warecki SC ’08. 

Mudd and CGU did not respond to requests for comment regarding their plans for the funding. 

This article was last updated April 22 at 4:49 p.m.

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