Office of the President
Dear university community,
I am writing to update you on a variety of matters arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the implications of the federal stimulus package known as the CARES Act. I am also writing to solicit your questions for a town hall webcast I invite you to attend virtually at 1 p.m. this Friday, April 17.
We are living through a historic time, and our Georgia State University community faces considerable uncertainty as we approach the end of the semester. In addition to disrupting our normal operations, COVID-19 and the steps taken to mitigate its effects will have major consequences for Georgia State well into the future.
Two forces in particular may have significant effects going forward. First, we have suffered a massive loss of jobs in Georgia and the United States. Many of our students are now unemployed and may find it difficult, or impossible, to continue their educations. Second, I expect that the state is experiencing a decline in revenues that likely will result in a major reduction in funding for all of public higher education, including Georgia State. The state of Georgia, unlike the federal government, cannot deficit spend and must have a balanced budget every year. We do not yet know the extent of the impact these factors will have on enrollment and funding, nor do we know the full extent to which the federal government will assist universities and states.
The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, provides more than $2 trillion in funding to help mitigate the financial impact and job losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in that bill was funding targeted to higher education institutions. Georgia State will receive $45,243,852, half of which is earmarked for emergency financial aid grants to students. That is the good news.
As large as $45,243,852 seems, and it is a lot of money, it is far from enough to meet the challenges we face. With more than 53,000 students, the CARES Act funds designated for students will not come close to meeting the financial hardships many are facing. Our Office of Student Financial Services is working hard to build on its vast experience and culture of innovation to direct these dollars to those students who are facing the greatest hardships during this time of extraordinary need. We are waiting to hear from the U.S. Department of Education on when the funds will be delivered and the guidelines for how they are to be used.
The CARES Act funding also will help the university pay for new expenses incurred in response to COVID-19, and weather the short-term loss of some revenue sources. However, the CARES Act cannot provide financial stability to the university over the long haul. It is a Band-Aid, not a cure.
The higher education community is working to secure additional federal funding to help students and universities navigate this historic economic shock. Governors across the nation are petitioning Washington for assistance in responding to the pandemic and seeking further financial support.
The road ahead is uncertain and will continue to unfold before us. There are difficult days ahead, but Georgia State has weathered many challenging situations, including two world wars, the Great Depression, 9/11 and the Great Recession. In all of these difficult periods, our university emerged stronger and better able to serve one of the largest and most diverse student bodies in the nation, while also rising in prominence for research and academic excellence. I am optimistic for our future and have every expectation Georgia State will continue its legacy of innovation and excellence as we face the challenges presented by COVID-19 and put the pandemic in our rearview mirror.
I know many of you have questions and concerns, and to that point I have scheduled a Town Hall webcast this Friday, April 17 at 1 p.m. You can access it at https://president.gsu.edu/livestream. Please send your questions to email@example.com, and I will try to answer as many as possible on the webcast.