Gov. Ivey earmarks $72.3 million in coronavirus aid for higher education

Gov. Kay Ivey today announced $72.34 million of coronavirus relief money will go toward Alabama’s higher education institutions.

More than $27 million will be pumped into the state’s community college system, with $25 million to its four-year institutions, and the state’s independent colleges getting $20 million.

The money will in part go towards beefing up technology and infrastructure to help with remote instruction and distance learning. Ivey said the state has awarded more than $432 million since July to help continue education during the pandemic. Requests are still coming in for aid, she said. The state received $1.8 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.

“My office has received numerous CARES Act funding requests, and we are eager to help as many folks as possible,” Ivey said. “We are still reviewing them to ensure they meet eligibility under the letter of the law and will be forthcoming when finalized.”

For four-year schools and independent colleges, the funds will reimburse them for remote instruction and learning costs. The money comes in addition to $50 million allocated in July to the four-year schools for COVID-related expenses.

Among the items the money will pay for among community colleges are:

Hardware and software for distance and remote learning.

$8 million for a laptop loaner program to assist low-income and other students within special populations with remote learning.

$10 million for a statewide virtual desktop environment that will allow students to use institution-owned software anywhere.

$2.9 million for video conferencing equipment in a classroom at each community college.

$6.4 million for Zoom rooms, next generation firewalls and online course assistance.

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