U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor announced Wednesday that Tampa colleges and universities are set to receive more than $180 million in emergency funding under the American Rescue Plan.
The funding will be used to assist in financial shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. At least half of the funding each institution receives will be distributed in the form of emergency cash assistance grants to students who are facing hunger, homelessness and other hardships.
“Our local colleges and universities are major economic engines and provide the highest quality education, but they have struggled during the unprecedented pandemic,” Castor said in a statement. “The American Rescue Plan makes much-needed investments in HCC, USF and UT to support the work of these valued local institutions as they recover and fully reopen.”
The funding will be divided among Hillsborough Community College ($60.7 million), the University of South Florida ($102.3 million), and the University of Tampa ($18.4 million).
“Importantly, struggling students will receive urgent relief to allow them to stay on track and complete their education,” Castor said in a statement. “I am pleased that this aid is on its way to HCC, USF, UT and students throughout Tampa Bay, and I will continue to work hard to secure the relief our community needs to crush COVID-19 and rebuild our economy.”
Information on how students can apply for an emergency grant can be found by contacting the institution.
The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan’s $36 billion package for nearly 3,500 public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities nationwide.
“Finances must never be a barrier to higher education, and with the funding made available to Hillsborough Community College through the American Rescue Plan, HCC will be able to expand our ability to provide access to affordable, high quality programs and services and ultimately a meaningful career to our students, particularly those adversely affected by this pandemic,” said HCC President Ken Atwater in a statement.
HCC, USF and UT previously received more than $58 million in CARES Act funding. That money provided direct emergency cash grants to college students and helped cover costs associated with adjustments brought on by the pandemic.
“The emergency funding released under the American Rescue Plan will directly benefit students at the University of South Florida who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” USF President Steven Currall said in a statement. “A top priority for USF throughout the pandemic has been the continuity of academic instruction and critical services to support the success of our students.”