University of Denver Seeking Additional Necessary COVID-19 Assistance

In an email communique to the University of Denver community, Chancellor Jeremy Haefner shared Denver’s efforts to work with government officials “however long it takes to recover from the effects of COVID-19.” Prior to the April 20th announcement,$4.6 million of the $12.5 billion pool of funds related to Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act had been allocated to DU. At least half of that will be awarded for emergency financial aid grants to students.

But the reality is, that $4.6 million isn’t enough. So the University of Denver’s push for additional financial support has been directed to federal and state officials. At the federal level, DU has reached out to U.S. Senators Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner of Colorado along with U.S. Rep. Jason Crowe of Colorado’s 6th congressional district. At the state level, with the support of former Mayor Federico Pena, the University has appealed to  Gov. Jared Polis for a piece of the $44.25 billion CARES Act funds which may be applied to higher education.  There is wide discretion given governors to distribute these funds.

The battle for funds is certain to be challenging as everyone is hurting right now.

DU will be competing with towns, counties, municipalities and other public and private educational institutions for federal funds. DU has issued refunds to students for room and board and for student activity fees. However, tuition, which averages $50,000 a year for undergrads, remains unchanged as of this writing. A Change.org petition initiated by DU students is asking the University of Denver administration for financial relief with classes moved online. The petition had garnered over 1,300 signatures but DU remains highly dependent on student tuition for continued operations. And the future of classes held on campus this summer and fall remains in doubt.

According to  The Denver Post,  CU took a $44 million hit from refunding impacted students’ housing and dining costs and paying hourly and student employees throughout the crisis. Colorado State University’s two campuses, the university paid out around $19 million in rebates for students’ housing and dining costs. Fort Lewis College gave back $2.8 million in the spring semester room and board. A 10% loss in 2020-21 state funding to the CU system would amount to a nearly $25 million hit to CU’s four campuses, according to a model presented at a CU Board of Regents meeting last week.

Denver Public Schools (DPS) officials predicted the 92,000-student district could lose from $19 million to $61 million in state funding next year. The district operates on an annual budget of more than $1 billion. Before the coronavirus, the district was projecting revenue would increase 2% next school year. Now, the best-case scenario is that it stays flat, while the worst-case scenario — the one involving a $61 million reduction in state funding — would be a 5% revenue decrease, according to Chalkbeat.

According to Chancellor Haefner, Denver’s appeals will center on “the importance of recognizing the contributions made by higher education on research, knowledge, work-force training, civic engagement, and contributing to our local and state economies. We want to ensure that our mission and contributions are ever-present as the federal government continues to implement and consider federal stimulus plans.”


Photo Courtesy of the University of Denver

5 thoughts on “University of Denver Seeking Additional Necessary COVID-19 Assistance”

  1. Yeah this no doubt will be survival of the fittest to get additional funding from Washington through the governor.
    Do we know how much of an active lobbying machine DU has at the moment? The names in the press release from CJH today were impressive but who knows what political ammo others have.

    I would just think being so centered on tuition and private donations that might have been less of a priority – maybe that’s why we only got just under 5 mil?

  2. What is becoming clear to me is that there are at least two levels of financial distress that are going to affect DU.

    One is the current levels of distress DU is facing with what I estimate to be a 20% hit to the endowment and another 10-15% hit in lost operating revenues with the current virus through this summer. This could be higher or lower, but it’s possible to work through it, with a hiring freeze, elected layoffs and some belt tightening. I could see the athletic budget being cut accordingly and surviving until things return to normal.

    However, if DU does not come back to live instruction on campus this fall, the financial hit will likely be much more massive. In that scenario, I can see 30-40% (or more) of the student families opting to defer a year or go somewhere local, rather than pay private school tuition for what would be just online classes. That would force massive layoffs and college sports would be deeply affected…

  3. Something had to break the chain of ever-escalating costs and student debt. The cost of higher ed has raced ahead of the cost of living. A summer job used to be a way to help pay for college. Now, hell that’s beer money. The system is almost as broken as health care. Maybe this is the kick in the pants the industry needed, a shake up on how things should be done. Maybe. Something’s got to give.

  4. I love DU athletics, was a student-athlete myself and a DU education ultimately helped me reach my goal. That being said it’s hard for the general public to sympathize with organizations that have $800 million endowments (or higher) and still cost $50k per year, often shackling naive young folks to insane levels of student debt for what is no longer a defined path to a successful career. In fact the mission of the universities seems further from helping young people achieve professional success or truly educating them and instead now runs like a business with social justice as its platform.

    I don’t want to see DU fail. In the broader sense, however, a correction to US colleges is long overdue. We have a huge surplus of college grads with no distinguishing abilities achieved from their education. DU has plenty of money in the endowment from donors and YEARS of high tuition that could easily sustain them for the next several years even if tuition revenue drops off a cliff. So dig into that. We don’t need tax money bailing out these universities in bad times when they make out like absolute bandits in good times. And this includes many workers who profit massively off of the questionable value they provide.

    Some of these colleges need to fail. The government also needs to stop guaranteeing loans so that kids who can’t make more than a Starbucks barista with a bachelors don’t get saddled with insurmountable debt and universities have accountability for providing tangible marketable educations.

    The fat needs to be trimmed. DU will be fine with the current endowment. And frankly I think it’s criminal that schools supposedly for the common good can hoard such massive wealth, especially when often they are in communities surrounded by abject poverty.

    /rant

  5. AS the worn out saying goes “The chickens have come home to roost”

    For the past 20 plus years the annual private college tuition has far exceeded the inflation rate. The liberal government’s direct political involvement with the universities allowed student borrowing to run amok .The universities were fine with this nonsense. The faculties were full of over paid smiling faces. Sush, lets just be quiet and keep riding these fat times.

    Well ,the fat times are over. Pay up!

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