Higher education enrollment further threatened by pandemic, proclamation

The pandemic’s negative impact on enrollment at institutions of higher education is getting even more complicated. New figures show that the number of students that have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a figure that serves as an indicator for postsecondary enrollment, has decreased. And a new proclamation from the president that restricts entry to the U.S. by graduate students and researchers from China may also affect higher education enrollment figures. According to The Hechinger Report, if international student enrollment decreases, the economic fallout will be severe, as it nationally accounts for about $2.5 billion in tuition and fees.

Useful Stats: Post-recession GDP recovery by state, 2000-2019

As the world begins to emerge from the “Great Lockdown” and governments increasingly turn their efforts towards reopening economies, many will look to past recessions for lessons on recovery. This edition of Useful Stats examines the rate of real GDP recovery by state following the recessions of 2001 and 2008.

Second round of PPP more evenly distributed

SBA began offering a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on April 27, and SBA’s data indicate this round is better distributed across businesses and the states than the first. As of May 8, round two has approved $189 billion across nearly 2.6 million loans, 55 percent more than in all of round one. The average loan size in round two is $73,488, which is a significant drop from the first round’s average of $206,022. Combined, $531 billion has been distributed in 4.2 million PPP loans.

NJ alters fiscal year to ease coronavirus strain on budget

As the economic fallout continues from the coronavirus pandemic and associated shutdown, states are still uncertain as to what their financial situations might be as they attempt to craft their new spending plans for a quickly approaching new fiscal year, which for most states start July 1. Last month, New Jersey state leaders took a unique approach to the situation by extending the current fiscal year from June 30 to September 30. The extension addresses a number of issues.

MI’s bold proposal supports frontline workers, other states punch up efforts

Frontline workers in Michigan who don’t have a degree may find a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate, in the same manner as the G.I. Bill following World War II, while others states are also pursuing options for increased educational opportunities for workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

Students in limbo as fall return–to–campus plans upended by pandemic

As college students close out highly disrupted spring semesters, higher education institutions across the country are trying to determine what the fall semester will entail, which has proven to be tricky at best. On campus or online instruction, hybrid plans and increased protections for students’ wellbeing are all topics administrators are grappling with in the midst of the pandemic. Meanwhile, prospective students are up in the air regarding their plans, as well, with a recent report revealing that domestic undergraduate enrollment for four-year institutions could decline 20 percent.

NIH launches $1.5 billion “shark tank” to accelerate testing

The most recently-passed federal legislation to address COVID-19 included funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to accelerate testing. The provision, added by Sens. Roy Blunt and Lamar Alexander, was envisioned to take an approach similar to TV’s “Shark Tank.” NIH is implementing the funds as a three-phase, “Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx),” challenge with up to $500 million in prizes. Teams with COVID-19 testing solutions will submit proposals, which will be evaluated by experts from the five hubs of NIH’s Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network. Finalists will receive assistance from experts before the final selection is made.

Treasury allows states’ CARES funds to assist small businesses

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published new guidance for how state and local governments can use the $150 billion in relief funds provided by the CARES Act. The guidance provides some flexibility to recipients to address “second-order effects” of the COVID-19 pandemic. On a long, but “nonexclusive” list of eligible expenditures, Treasury included expenditures related to small business grants to reimburse costs from related interruptions and costs related to a payroll protection program. State, territorial and tribal governments, as well as municipal governments with populations greater than 500,000 were eligible for these relief funds, which had to be requested by April 17. Generally, funds can cover necessary expenses incurred between March 1 and December 30 that were not part of the government’s budget in effect on March 27, 2020.

New funding available for tech-based companies impacted by coronavirus in PA

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced last week that new funding is available to help technology-based companies impacted by COVID-19. In recognizing that the state’s tech companies have been stepping up to provide innovative ways to produce personal protective equipment and other supplies, DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said in a release that “we must make sure they remain in a position to provide those critical services and ideas in our response to this pandemic.”

CBO projects high unemployment through at least 2021

New projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of key economic variables reveal an expected sharp contraction in the economy in the second quarter with the unemployment rate projected to average 15 percent during the second and third quarters of 2020 and remaining as high as 9.5 percent by the end of 2021. CBO projects GDP will decline by about 12 percent during the second quarter. Federal debt held by the public is projected to be 101 percent of GDP by the end of the fiscal year, up from 79 percent at the end of FY 2019, but below the all-time high of 106 percent in 1946 following World War II.


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