NIU uses excess federal funding for COVID-19 expenses

NIU+sign+on+Oct.+13.+

Patrick Murphy

NIU sign on Oct. 13.

Ashley Dwy and Kierra Frazier

DeKALB – Half of the federal funding NIU received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus $7.4 million, went to COVID-related expenses incurred by NIU, according to the CARES Act 30-day fund report

Specifically, the $7.4 million was used to reimburse the university for the expense of refunding the student housing and dining, parking and student fees incurred when the university sent students home in March.

The CARES Act, or The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, is a higher education emergency relief fund signed March 27. It allocated approximately $14 billion to the Office of Postsecondary Education, according to the US Department of Education’s website.

NIU received $14.8 million total to allocate to students and university expenses. No less than 50% of the funding is required to go to students, according to the NIU CARES Act.

Students received $5.7 million, as of Sept. 21, according to the CARES Act 30-day fund report. The remaining $1.7 million is being distributed to students through an extension of the emergency fund, an academic recovery grant, and another grant based on need according to the income students put on FAFSA.

“The federal relief funding that we received played a big role,” Chief Financial Officer Sarah Chinniah said. “We received about 15 million, half of that went directly to students so it really was a great help to our students, but when you look at these numbers, it didn’t impact our numbers.” 

NIU ended the 2020 fiscal year in June with a $15.3 million deficit and is looking at a possible $37.7 million deficit for the 2021 fiscal year, Chinniah said.