State university system seeks federal aid for students, research funding in coronavirus relief package

Florida's universities want relief from federal bailout bill

The State University of System of Florida is asking Florida’s congressional delegation to support additional aid for college students, some changes in federal rules, and a bump in federal research money to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a memo sent late Monday to Florida’s two U.S. Senators and 27 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser and Syd Kitson, chair of the Florida Board of Governors, urged them to not forget colleges and universities as they negotiate the nearly $2 trillion bailout package now in Congress.

“Our system is striving to adapt to the challenges, and we are doing our utmost to continue to provide for the education and safety of our students and the well-being of our entire community. While we gratefully accept these responsibilities, our students, faculty, and staff are bearing a challenging burden,” they wrote. “The State University System of Florida concurs with several of the proposals put forward by a variety of national higher education organizations.”

Their three specific asks:

– Emergency aid to students and institutions.

“Some of Florida’s students will struggle to meet housing, transportation, food, and medical needs as result of not having direct access to these services on campus,” they wrote. “We support providing those students access to additional grant funding, through the Pell grant program.”

– Temporary flexibility in statutory and regulatory requirements.

“We support the temporary suspension of certain provisions relating to the eligibility, determination, and disbursement of Title IV aid, along with granting institutions more flexibility to implement federal aid programs, such as federal work study and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant,” they wrote. “In addition, we support Congress giving the Secretary of Education temporary authority to waive or suspend the large number of existing statutory and regulatory deadlines for higher education institutions.”

– Supplemental research funding and increased flexibility on use of these funds.

“As the fourth largest public university system for research, increased flexibility during this time is critical for our institutions,” they wrote. “We are supportive of any supplemental appropriations for federal agencies that may assist institutions in covering salaries and benefits to those students and staff who are directly involved in research to continue during this time.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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