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American Recue Plan Could Help Augustana College Recover from COVID-Related Deficit

Augustana College

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Moline helped pass the American Rescue Plan (ARP) earlier this year, and now colleges and universities are planning how to spend the relief money. 

At Augustana College, Kai Swanson says a majority of its funding will go directly to students based on need. The rest will go toward covering COVID-related expenses and loss of revenue, which generated a deficit of 11.5 million dollars for the college. 

“We had to spend on contact tracing teams. That was actually one way we avoided furloughs. We repurposed some of our colleagues to contact tracing in a very robust effort there, but you still needed to have some hotels for quarantine and isolation space.” 

International students at Augustana College also faced challenges getting federal support last year. On a Zoom call today, Swanson thanked Congresswoman Bustos for the inclusion of international students in the ARP. 

“We had about 160 international students for whom it was simply not an option to go home, and as you know, some of the early aid that was sent to higher education expressly prohibited benefiting our international students. Thankfully, that is quite anachronistic. 

Early enrollment numbers for Augustana College’s fall semester are up. Swanson says they’re subject to change between now and the first day of school, but it gives him hope for higher education post-pandemic. 

Marianna Bacallao is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2020-2021 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for the student newspaper, The Cluster.
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