How YSU spent its CARES Act funds

By Abigail Cloutier

In the past year, Youngstown State University received multiple federal grants to offset losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. YSU has received $10,376,462 from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to date. The university was required to spend a minimum of $5,188,231 in direct payments in the form of emergency financial aid to students.

According to the Ohio Checkbook website, YSU received $5,188,231 from the Department of Higher Education through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, including $3,924,308 on Aug. 3, 2020 and an additional $1,962,154 on Nov. 2, 2020. YSU was also awarded an additional $124,200 specifically for mental health relief. The university used this fund to add additional counselors and programs to Student Counseling Services.

The university achieved this through a two-part grant program. According to the updated 2021 operating budget released Dec. 3, the first was the YSU Penguin CARE Emergency Grant, which dispersed $1,000 grants to 2019-2020 Pell Grant recipients. Phase Two of this program opened up grant applications for all students in need of financial assistance. Students received between $500 and $2,000 through this fund. 

In total, 3,133 individual students were eligible to receive funding from these grants and some received both Phases 1 and 2 grants. To date, YSU has distributed $5,188,572 in direct payments to students.

The remaining $5,188,231 of the HEERF funds were designated for university spending. YSU was required to spend this on expenses restricted by the U.S. Treasury and the Department of Education, including but not limited to emergency payroll designations, cleaning and PPE to combat COVID-19. According to the budget, much of these expenses went to instructional and office supplies. Other expenses included safety equipment and uniforms.

YSU spent $826,101 on instructional computers and printers, an additional $208,902 on non-instructional computers and printers as of Nov. 16, 2020. 

Additionally, $75,000 was designated to WYSU-FM, YSU’s radio station.

On March 5, YSU’s vice president of finance Neal McNally sent an email to the campus asking for grant proposals for the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. Individual institutions are expected to receive up to $150,000. The grant may be used on distance education, faculty and staff training and student support activity expenses related to COVID-19. The funds will be allocated as early as May 2021.