University seeks opportunities for stimulus bill funding

With close to $54 billion directed toward education, the recently signed stimulus bill may be cause for many students and teachers across the country to celebrate. But private institutions, like GW, may not be so lucky.

Close to 75 percent of the education stabilization fund in the stimulus package has been designated for states to give to public colleges and school districts, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. GW administrators are working out the details to figure out how the University – a private school in a District, not a state – can fit into the picture.

“The money that could be given to colleges [in D.C.] is expected to be distributed for historically black and community colleges and sustainability projects,” University spokeswoman Tracy Schario said. “We are evaluating the sustainability angle.”

GW’s location in D.C. could hinder the process for receiving aid, since money from the stabilization fund is largely distributed to states based on population.

Research is a highly funded area where the University is seeking to find opportunities. The $787 billion bill provides $1.3 billion to renovate and equip university research facilities, and the National Institutes of Health will receive $8.7 billion for research grants, according to The Chronicle.

Executive Vice President Lou Katz said that the University is still evaluating the bill and looking for provisions where it could apply for aid, including renovating research labs or specific sustainability projects.

“We are monitoring all aspects of the stimulus bill and seeing what we might be eligible for,” Katz said. “But I can tell you that everyone is monitoring the stimulus bill.”

Funding for government agencies could also potentially benefit GW.

“Much of the stimulus bill is directed toward states to handle budget shortfalls and restore funding to their agencies,” said Michael Akin, executive director of international, government and community relations. “However, there are increases to research funds at NIH, NSF and other government science agencies that may present an opportunity for faculty.”

University President Steven Knapp asked GW’s Office of External Relations to create a task force that will “bring together decision makers from across the University to look at the potential for each of these sources of funding,” Akin said.

In the meantime, like most colleges and universities, GW will see the bill’s impact on several existing financial aid programs, including increases in Pell Grants and more than $200 million directed to work-study funds.

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