AUSTIN, Texas - This month St. Edwards University announced budget cuts for its 2021 fiscal year, and say these restructuring efforts strengthen the university’s ability to absorb changes related to COVID-19.
The university held a forum Tuesday night for students to address issues and questions. One student, Kerry McGillicuddy, said there were several points she wanted to address as her program will be directly impacted by the cuts.
She says many of the teachers she’s had for years were laid off and she’s confused about what’s next for her.
“There was no opportunity to have our questions asked and discussed but they said they were addressing questions emailed to them by students throughout the past week whether that be a student reaching out to their dean or going to the president themselves directly," McGillicuddy said.
Other areas McGillicuddy was concerned about were transportation for health services, which has been switched over to Baylor Scott and White, and the library moving towards more of a digital research center versus hard copy.
In April, Senator John Cornyn announced that several Central Texas colleges will be receiving more than $84 million in federal grants due to the coronavirus. Funding comes from the Higher Education Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act.
At least 50% of each grant must go toward students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to campus operations. The act allows each college discretion on how to award this assistance to students. According to the Department of Education, St. Edwards received $4,142,345.
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“Well we’re trying to figure out how do you help universities, small businesses, students, hospitals everyone’s being affected one way or another but in the end they have to make their budget work and if they need to do that, that’s sad I wish they didn’t but I respect their right to make that call themselves," Cornyn said earlier.
He added, “the money if it’s through the paycheck protection program it’s a low-interest loan and if they can hold onto their employees until June then their loan can be forgiven but I guess in some instances people just can’t make those numbers work so they get the benefit of the low-interest loan but it will not be forgiven. They have to plan to give that back."
The university has not responded to questions about whether they plan on returning the funds they received from the CARES Act, but the President did say in a letter to members of the university community that “long term investment includes obtaining nationally recognized grant funding.”
St. Edwards adds that the reduction of employee positions are effective this month.
The university has also announced plans to return to campus for the fall semester, saying they are "committed as ever to delivering an excellent student experience within the framework of our current resources."
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