by ELISSA SALAMY, The National Desk
WASHINGTON (TND) — Colleges and universities received billions of dollars in COVID relief funds to help keep students on campus and in the classroom, but learning for thousands of students is still remote due to COVID-19.
And more money is coming.
On Friday, the Department of Education announced an additional $198 million in COVID aid to help colleges hit hardest by the pandemic; to tackle things like food, housing and security.
Michigan State University started the spring 2022 semester with students learning remotely. Freshmen Morgan Schmidt jumps between taking classes online in her dorm and from a Starbucks.
“I feel though, it's really hard as like, personally for myself to stay focused with everything being online,” said Schmidt to The National Desk.
Money for colleges and universities started trickling in the early days of the pandemic, during the Trump administration's time in office.
“Why are any college students today in a remote learning environment? There's been $70 billion of congressional COVID aid doled out to the 5,000 institutions of America's colleges and universities,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of OpenTheBooks.com.
Under the Biden administration, the American Rescue Plan provided nearly $40 billion for colleges and universities. Nearly 90% of institutions used American Rescue Funds to buy COVID-19 tests, conduct health screenings and meet urgent health needs, according to the Department of Education. Grambling State University in Louisiana used $1.5 million to cancel institutional debt for students. Johnson County Community College in Kansas used funding for free or low-cost workforce programs for people who lost their jobs.
But Andrzejewski says there is some waste.
“For example, Columbia University has an endowment of $13 billion, and yet they received $64 million worth of coronavirus aid. Why?” said Andrzjeweski.
As for students like Schmidt, she just wants to go to class.
“With being online, we have every technical issue in the book, I can tell you. I've had every WiFi issue, tests not being able to be submitted,” said Schmidt.