NAU receives $23 million in federal assistance

Infographic by Aleah Green

Congress and the Trump administration recently approved a $2 trillion economic stimulus package that specifically offers support for the unemployed, allocates money toward states and directs funding to struggling businesses.

According to The New York Times, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved this measure after meeting on March 25. The article reported it is, by far, the largest deal in modern American history and is significantly larger than the bill passed during the Great Recession in 2009.

Of this $2 trillion stimulus deal, approximately $14 billion is going to academic institutions around the country. NAU will receive exactly $23,577,854 in total funding, and half of this figure — or $11,788,927 — must be allotted to emergency financial aid grants.

Despite the importance of this allocation, only 0.7% of the federal government’s stimulus package is directed toward colleges and universities. According to The New York Times, $377 billion is going to federally guaranteed business loans, $500 billion to a lending program for distressed businesses and $100 billion to certain hospitals. These figures represent approximately 19%, 25% and 5%, respectively, of the government's bill.

Other institutions in Arizona were also granted portions of the stimulus package. UA will collect $30,953,447, GCU will secure $22,351,397 and ASU will gain $63,533,137. Additionally, Coconino Community College will obtain $1,104,730. In order to comply with the federal government’s conditions, 50% of all funding is already designated for student financial aid.

ASU benefited from the largest allotment in the country, acquiring more funds than Pennsylvania State University's $55 million, Rutgers’s $54 million and the University of Central Florida’s $51 million. According to the Office of Institutional Analysis at ASU, the university’s four main campuses have 74,878 students. And another article documented roughly 30,000 online students in 2016.

“Funding levels are based on a complex formula weighted toward institutions enrolling large numbers of students who qualify for Pell Grants,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

This system demonstrates how Arizona’s public universities — and others around the country — were bestowed precise and planned amounts of money. In general, enrollment figures guided the process.

However, another publication in The New York Times reported that higher education leaders requested $50 billion in federal assistance — more than three times the amount actually given.

“While this legislation is an improvement from where the Senate started, the amount of money it provides to students and higher education institutions remains woefully inadequate,” Ted Mitchell, the president of the American Council on Education, stated in the article.

NAU spokesperson Kimberly Ott did not offer any information about the university’s plans for funding, specifically those separate from student financial aid. After receiving its allotment, NAU will have nearly $12 million to work with.

According to an Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) financial review document from 2018, the university collected 17% of its total revenue through state support. This funding constituted almost $100 million of NAU’s $590 million total. However, the university also accrued about $585 million in total expenses, leaving it with a net increase of around $5 million.

Based on these figures, the federal government's $23 million appropriation amounts to 4% of NAU’s expenses from 2018 — a fairly significant portion. If more updates about the university's financial structure become available, they will be provided.