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Survey: CARES Act Funding Helped, but Not Enough

October 28, 2020

State directors of community colleges believe that federal CARES Act funding helped students in their states, according to survey results from the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama.

The center's 2020 National Survey of Access and Finance Issues surveyed the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges and received 38 responses. The survey this year was conducted between July and October and including several questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and CARES Act funding, which provided $14 billion to institutions to support the transition to remote learning and to provide emergency aid to students.

While respondents felt the funding helped students, most also believe that public higher education over all will face financial difficulties during this fiscal year. Respondents said that rural community colleges and regional universities are likely to face the greatest fiscal strain.

Most respondents also agreed that the federal aid helped institutions with budget shortfalls, though seven disagreed. Still, the majority agreed that more federal funding is necessary to support and improve broadband internet access.

Thirty-six respondents said the switch to remote learning exposed inequity in broadband access across their states.

Nearly all respondents also said they needed more funding for remote learning support, counseling and advising, and faculty training to open next year. Twenty-five of 28 respondents said that uncertain state funding will make it difficult to improve graduation rates this academic year.

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