Penn will receive $9,907,683 in aid from the federal government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, at least half of which must be distributed as emergency aid to students.
Vice President of Finance and Treasurer MaryFrances McCourt wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn has not yet finalized how it will spend the funds, nor has it received the money from the federal government yet. The $4.95 million Penn must allocate as emergency aid can include anything under a student’s cost of attendance, which includes food, housing, and technology, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The remaining half of the funds can cover "any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus" but cannot go towards institutions' endowments, according to The United States Department of Education.
Passed by Congress and signed into law by 1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump on March 27, the CARES Act is the largest stimulus package in U.S. history, providing over $2 trillion in economic relief for American workers, families, and small businesses. The package allocates $14 billion to U.S. colleges and universities based on the total student population and full-time Pell Grant recipients.
The United States Department of Education awards federal Pell Grants to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree. Six percent of Penn students receive Pell grants, according to Billy Penn.
Penn will receive the third-highest level of funding in the Ivy League. Both Cornell University and Columbia University will receive $12.8 million. Princeton University will receive the smallest aid package at $2.4 million.
After receiving $8.66 million under the CARES Act, Harvard University announced earlier this week that it will allocate the money to student financial assistance and will not use any of the funds to cover institutional costs. Many politicians including members of Congress and Trump have criticized the CARES aid to the University, citing Harvard's $40.9 billion endowment as of June 2019, the largest University endowment in the world.
Penn's endowment was valued at $14.7 billion in June 2019, the fourth-largest endowment in the Ivy League after Harvard, Yale University, and Princeton.
Sixteen colleges and universities located in Philadelphia will receive a combined $95 million from CARES, according to BillyPenn. Of these schools, Penn will get the fourth highest aid package, and Temple University will receive the largest package of $28.7 million.
Penn announced on Tuesday that undergraduate students whose financial aid packages include a summer savings expectation will receive a COVID-19 Summer Savings Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year to offset their individual summer savings expectation. The standard summer savings expectation is $3000 for first-years and $3200 for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
"Students who are packaged based on the standard summer savings expectation would see equivalent grants included in their package for next year," McCourt wrote.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model, an initiative that provides economic analyses of public policy’s fiscal impact, estimates that the CARES Act will lessen the fall of the United States gross domestic product at an annualized rate of 37% to 30% this year.
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