Temple to send direct payments to students with federal relief funds

The university received $44.2 million from the most recent COVID-19 relief bill, more than any other local college or university.

The student financial services office is located in Carnell Hall. Students are expected to receive COVID-19 relief grants in the near future. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Updated Feb. 15 at 3:05 p.m.

Temple University received $44.2 million, of which nearly $15 million is expected to go directly to students, in the most recent round of federal stimulus funding for colleges and universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Ken Kaiser, the university’s chief financial officer.

Temple will use the remaining amount, nearly $30 million, to help offset the $33.3 million deficit in the university’s budget for the 2020-21 academic year. 

The university lost revenue due to a five percent decrease in enrollment for the 2020-21 academic year and its current housing occupancy falling to 30 percent of what it was last spring, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. Additionally, Temple has spent millions of dollars on its COVID-19 safety plans and protocols, including $15 million on COVID-19 testing during the 2020-21 academic year, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.  

Temple is unsure how much money each student will receive through the new grants, but it will “at minimum” equal the direct payments provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Congress signed into law in March 2020, Kaiser said. 

Temple students who were already Pell Grant recipients received as much as $1,000 each in May 2020 through funding Temple received from CARES Act, The Temple News reported.

Pell recipients will automatically receive their payments, Kaiser wrote in an email to The Temple News, and the remaining balance will be distributed to other students who apply. 

The process for applying and receiving the payments will be the same as it was in the first round of payments, he wrote.

Kaiser said students with demonstrated financial need will be prioritized for the new payments, with Pell Grant recipients at the front of the line. 

The Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program for undergraduate and graduate students from low-income households who demonstrate financial need, and does not need to be repaid, according to the Office of Federal Student Aid in the U.S. Department of Education. 

“We know Pell students have demonstrated financial need even before COVID,” Kaiser said. “So we want to make sure that students have funds to do a couple of things.” 

About 63 percent of Temple’s student body received need-based financial aid grants for the 2020-21 school year, according to the university’s annual factbook

The relief grants will help students with Pell Grants pay for food, housing and bills at Temple, Kaiser said.

“This isn’t going to pay for several months’ rent, but it could help,” Kaiser said.

The university will release the money within “about a week or so” after receiving the funds from the federal government, which will hopefully happen in the next two weeks, Kaiser said. 

Temple secured the most money of all the local colleges and universities that received federal funding. The Community College of Philadelphia received $31.8 million, Drexel University received $21.9 million and West Chester University received $18.6 million, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act became law on Dec. 27, 2020, and includes $22.7 billion in federal funding for higher education institutions. The act requires schools who receive the funding to spend the same dollar amount on student grants as they did during the initial CARES Act funding, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

The original CARES Act last year sent $14 billion to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, according to the United States Department of Education.

On Jan. 20, the government extended the suspension on loan payments, defaulted loan collection and interest rates above zero percent on Department of Education owned loans until Sept. 30, according to the Department of Education.

Temple has joined other colleges and universities in lobbying the federal government for more higher education relief throughout the pandemic, said George Kenney, associate vice president and senior advisor on government affairs.

“You know, they’ve got one pot of money, and they’re trying to figure out how to split it up, get in and get it out to as many people and make as much impact as they possibly can,” Kenney said of the new relief funds. “We just want to make sure that they remember us as they’re splitting up the pot.”

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