Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Stimulus Money Slow to Reach Colleges: An Avalanche of Funding Is Expected after Slow Start to Stimulus Spending for Campus-Preservation Projects

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Stimulus Money Slow to Reach Colleges: An Avalanche of Funding Is Expected after Slow Start to Stimulus Spending for Campus-Preservation Projects

Article excerpt

President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus spending package was, supposed to move shovel-ready construction projects, including campus facilities, toward completion.

However, stimulus spending so far has been focused on financial aid and tax credits, less so on speeding up brick-and-mortar projects on college campuses. The recovery spending also has been hamstrung by delays; only about 14 percent of the money approved in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has been spent since it was approved in February, according to press accounts.

Even so, a major portion of the funding is about to hit the higher-education community, says Robert He[land, government services advisor at the Washington, D.C., office of international law firm Reed Smith. "The opportunities are going to go fast and furious, including for historically Black colleges and universities," he says.

About half of some $32.6 billion in stimulus funds earmarked to stabilize schools should be reaching states whose governors will then dole out money to save college teachers' jobs and prevent layoffs caused by the recession, says Helland, noting discretionary state stimulus spending could benefit public HBCUs.

Such funding has already been used to ease the fiscal crisis in California. Badly wracked by unemployment and lower tax revenues because of tanking real estate, the state legislature has recently cut $2.8 billion in higher-education spending to make up a $26 billion budget shortfall.

Although tuitions have seen emergency hikes and staff and courses have been cut back, California politicians believe that they can make up part of the college cuts with $1.1 billion in stimulus money from the stabilization fund. Other hard-hit states such as Michigan are trying to do the same thing.

Much of the ARRA funding earmarked for higher education, however, is going to help students pay tuition. …

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