Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki

  • AACC/ACCT hope to see training funding in HEROES Act
  • New ED guidance on regs and reporting requirements
  • Admin salary reductions part of Ohio college’s budget-cutting plan
  • Covering colleges’ nursing test fees
  • New baccalaureate programs in Wyoming

AACC/ACCT hope to see training funding in HEROES Act

House Democrats on Friday night passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which would provide nearly $90 billion for K-12 and public higher education. However, the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) faces a tough road as Senate Republicans and President Trump oppose the measure, preferring to see how previous federal relief packages work before taking on a new round of funding.

Congress previously passed four major coronavirus relief packages, including the CARES Act. Although Republicans have sounded their opposition, some Democrats hope the measure can serve as a starting point for discussions on the next relief bill.

The Senate will not take up its version of the bill until sometime in June.

Prior to Friday’s House vote, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that the new funds for higher education in the bill would help their member colleges “cope with expected budget reductions, decreased revenue, increased costs stemming from the transition to distance education, and COVID-19 mitigation efforts.”

AACC/ACCT also expressed their support for clarification on student eligibility (including international students, DACA recipients and Dreamers) as well as its one-year extension of student loan borrower relief provided in the CARES Act.

Although the legislation did not include new investment for a particular community college workforce development program for which they advocated, the associations said they hoped it would be included as lawmakers continue to move on the measure.

New ED guidance on regs and reporting requirements

The U.S. Education Department on Friday released additional guidance on regulations and reporting requirements pertaining to funding provided to postsecondary institutions through the CARES Act.

The new guidance addresses an array of topics, including:

  • Return of Title IV funds
  • Satisfactory academic progress
  • Information on how the IRS will treat CARES Act grants to students
  • Expanded approval for distance education
  • Alternative ways that graduating high school students can show they completed high school
  • Waivers and institutional reimbursement for Federal Work-Study and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs

Admin salary reductions part of Ohio college’s budget-cutting plan

With a projected $25 million shortfall for its fiscal year 2021 budget due to the health pandemic, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland has announced cost-saving measures that include significant cuts to the salaries of top administrators, including President Alex Johnson.

The college examined anticipated state funding, enrollment and other revenues, as well as approximately $1 million in additional operational expenses resulting from the coronavirus crisis, to determine the estimated shortfall. Tri-C developed its plan to ensure long-term financial stability while keeping the college affordable and providing the services that students need at a time when attaining a postsecondary will be even more critical to attain good-paying jobs.

“These are difficult times that call for difficult decisions,” Tri-C President Alex Johnson said a press release. “We are operating in a vastly different environment than we were before the pandemic, and we must adjust to that new reality.”

The cost-saving measures, which begin July 1, include reductions to the base salaries of the highest-paid employees, ranging from 3 percent to 7 percent, plus 10 percent for Johnson. In addition, the college will offer voluntary separation packages to employees with one year or more of service, and implement strategic staff reductions and consolidations.

College officials noted the new measures are in addition to ones they’ve already implemented, including a hiring freeze, no discretionary spending for college-sponsored travel and business meetings, and delayed campus or facility projects financed through the general operating budget.

Covering colleges’ nursing test fees

A graduating Greenville Technical College nursing student picks up a check to cover her national testing exam fee, thanks to donations from two anonymous donors. (Photo: GTC)

Graduating nursing students at a community college in South Carolina and Washington state will have the cost of their national nursing exams covered thanks to local benefactors.

At Greenville Technical College in South Carolina, two anonymous donors will cover the $200 registration fee for all 35 nursing graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination exam, a $7,000 combined gift. Graduates came to the college on May 14 to pick up their gift certificates in the parking lot of the nursing building.

“Nurses are making a tremendous difference for all of us these days, and their heroic efforts should be rewarded. This donation helps those who will soon be ready to serve on the front lines,” said Ann Wright, vice president for advancement with the Greenville Tech Foundation.

In Olympia, Washington, local allied health organizations donated to the South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) Foundation to cover the testing fees for all 37 graduating nursing students.

Providence St. Peter Foundation, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, Panorama and Capital Medical Center chipped in to cover the total $10,000 cost for the tests. Providence St. Peter Foundation also made a commitment to fund 30 allied health scholarships in the 2020-21 school year, as well as extra support to the foundation’s student success fund, which offers year-round assistance for students in financial need.

“To help these students with their first step into the healthcare field during a pandemic is extremely poignant,” said Tanya Mote, executive director of the SPSCC Foundation. “We are so very grateful for the strong community support for SPSCC’s nursing students.”

New baccalaureate programs in Wyoming

Beginning this fall, Laramie County Community College (LCCC) will offer bachelor of applied science degrees in two programs.

With approval from its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, LCCC will open to its students baccalaureates in applied management and healthcare administration.

Tuition for the new degrees is the same as for other programs at the college. LCCC also will offer all students entering these programs a $1,000 grant for this year’s fall semester.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.