US colleges, varsities seek $120bn Covid-19 relief

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Washington, Dec 3 (IANS) A coalition of US colleges and universities has urged Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration to finalise negotiations on a Covid-19 relief with at least $120 billion for higher education.
As “the scope of the financial duress of students and institutions has only grown” due to the pandemic, schools face an increase in student financial need and Covid-specific costs, as well as a decline in enrollments and auxiliary revenues, Xinhua news agency quoted a letter signed by the American Council on Education and 100 other groups on Wednesday.
Colleges and universities face “a crisis of almost unimaginable” scale, however, many states have cut their higher education budgets, according to the letter.
“Over 63 per cent of college students have experienced financial losses directly or within their families due to the pandemic,” the letter said, citing a study conducted by the American College Health Association and the Healthy Minds Network.
An estimate in April predicted a decline of 25 per cent of institutional revenues in auxiliary revenues, which covers revenue from room and board charges, conference and facility fees, event tickets, parking fees and bookstores, it added.
Enrolments have also decreased amid the pandemic, with a 13 per cent drop in freshmen across all US institutions, the letter said.
The development comes as the US is currently the worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic with the highest number of cases and fatalties, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Thursday, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the country’s overall caseload and death toll stood at 13,916,543 and 273,316, respectively.

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