Third Stimulus Check: Latter-day Saint schools like BYU spurn $333 million in COVID-19 relief
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Four Latter-day Saint-owned colleges and universities now have turned down a total of $333 million in federal stimulus checks during the pandemic.
A year ago, I wrote about how Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and its sister schools BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii and Ensign College, formerly known as LDS Business College, had turned down a combined $54.1 million allocated for them in the CARES Act, signed into law by then President Donald Trump in March 2020.
That figure has ballooned to more than 1⁄3 of a billion dollars through two more rounds of COVID-19 relief packages.
The U.S. Congress and two presidents have provided expanding packages of aid to the nations colleges and universities along with the individual stimulus checks provided to qualifying Americans.
But BYU has turned down stimulus checks worth $32 million, $50 million and $88 million. While some Americans now are wondering if they will receive a fourth stimulus check, the schools owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and operated through its Church Educational System steadfastly continue to decline the money.
Here’s a breakdown of what each one has been offered and turned down:
First check via the CARES Act
In March 2020, the CARES Act allocated $54.17 million to the CES schools:
- BYU: $32,272,986
- BYU-Idaho: $18,172,623
- BYU-Hawaii: $2,306,881
- Ensign College (formerly LDS Business College): $1,422,523
Then in December 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act or CRRSAA, which provided another $92.72 million to the four church schools:
- BYU: $50,333,740
- BYU-Idaho: $36,367,051
- BYU-Hawaii: $3,626,535
- Ensign College: $2,392,206
Third check from the America Rescue Plan Act
Finally, in March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, which offered the schools another $168.3 million.
- BYU: $88,556,823
- BYU-Idaho: $68,957,975
- BYU-Hawaii: $6,542,246
- Ensign College: $4,284,256
“BYU will not be accepting funds allocated through the ARP Act,” BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.
The money comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which now has provided a total of $76.2 billion to colleges and universities and their students. Student loan payments, interest and collections also have been frozen through Sept. 30, according to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington.
Grand total is more than 1⁄3 of a billion dollars
The total allocated to the four Latter-day Saint schools during the three rounds of stimulus is $333,408,468:
- BYU total: $171,163,549
- BYU-Idaho total: $141,670,272
- BYU-Hawaii total: $12,475,662
- Ensign College total: $8,098,985
The four schools lost significant money during the pandemic, when they shut down briefly during March 2020. The schools reopened with virtual classes, then gradually added back some in-person learning.
Despite the losses, the church schools repeatedly have said they would forgo the federal funding because of the church’s principles of self-reliance. Spokespersons for the schools referred Wednesday to their year-old statements.
Ensign College spokesman Royce Hinton confirmed the amount of the funds offered by the government through the three rounds of stimulus.
“There have been no renewed discussions about accepting COVID funding coming from the government,” he said.
Other schools have rejected the federal funding, too. For example, Harvard has turned down all of a total of $41 million allocated for it after facing criticism for initially accepting the first $9 million, according to the Crimson. Some of the criticism focused on Harvard’s ability to weather the pandemic on its own with an endowment valued at $41.9 billion.
BYU’s Jenkins said last year that the Provo school believed it could assist its students without help from the CARES Act funds. The university created its own relief fund to help students who attended school from January to August 2020 with food and housing needs. Since then, BYU has provided what essentially are expanded tuition deadlines to help students struggling financially.
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I read a couple of amazing stories on running this week:
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