The Importance of COVID-19 Relief Funding for TCUs

On May 11 the U.S. Department of Education released its latest guidelines on the use of emergency relief funding for higher education institutions. This is the third stream of funding under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) for approximately $39.6 billion intended to prevent, prepare, and respond to COVID-19. This includes separate funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021. Altogether, higher education institutions have been allocated roughly $77 billion.  

Under the American Rescue Plan (ARP)further extension of the CARES Act, specific funding has been allocated for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). The 35 TCUs in the country will receive approximately $50 million in total of the $36 billion that has been allocated through the Department of Education with an overall estimation of $143 million in funding from the approximately $3 billion set aside for HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions, TCUs, and Strengthening Program Institutions.   

This marks a continued effort by the President Biden administration’s plan for tribal nations, which includes expanded funding and support for TCUs. These colleges and universities serve to preserve American Indian and Alaska Native traditions that include language and culture, along with providing educational opportunities, job trainings, community outreach, and technical training. While TCUs college student enrollment is at about 40,000 students, roughly 120,000 students are enrolled in a variety of non-credit or community programs which are supported through the U.S. Department of Interior and Department of Education.   

However, TCUs have faced many challenges to support their communities since many of their students are from low-income families living in rural areas that often lack necessary infrastructure. In fact, according to the American Indian College Fund 20% of Native students surveyed do not have home computers and internet access. Additionally, TCUs often are not the beneficiaries of large private donations or outside funding. 

The lack of funding, and the well documented reporting on the impacts COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on poor communities and communities of color, Native Americans have been some of the hardest hit. All of this is outlined by recent CDC reportswhich found that American Indians and Alaska Natives who contracted COVID-19 are hospitalized at nearly four times the rate than non-Hispanics and dying at nearly twice the rate and faced increased “systemic economic challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.”  

With these grim findings, TCUs are in a unique position to offer their communities support with the additional Department of Education funding which can be used to upgrade technology, increase internet connectivity, build back community outreach programs, provide job training for jobs that will exist in the future, while still maintaining a continued emphasis on providing valuable cultural and language programs. TCUs can continue to be the bedrock of providing Native Americans with community and futures.    

To support these efforts, Symplicity is here to help TCUs overcome the ongoing challenges faced by their communities and enhance their important functions within their communities.  

With CARES Act funding, TCUs can turn to Symplicity as a trusted, technology partner with its suite of student services offerings that have helped universities see the full picture of the needs of their campus population. As of November 2020, according to the Center for American Progress, nearly $847 million of CARES Act funding remains unawarded meaning TCUs can actively utilize this funding to support and expand their student offerings even in a post-pandemic world.   

To support continued efforts in the wake of COVID-19, many universities turned to Symplicity to provide seamless, uninterrupted support to their students. With our suite of student services solutions, Symplicity has helped colleges close the insights gap many are facing, according to a recent survey conducted by Symplicity of 500+ higher education administrators, in which 66% of respondents reported that lack of actionable data and limited technology are the greatest challenges their institutions face in 2021.  

If you are interested in applying CARES Act funding towards Symplicity solutions, fill out this form to receive a template letter that can be used to submit a proposal.  

Coronavirus, COVID-19, diversity, Diversity and Inclusion, Student Success, Covid, CARES Act, tribal controlled colleges and universities, TCU, funding, Native Americans

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