The pandemic could cost Biola $3.4 million

Housing and meal plan reimbursements chip away at the university’s operating expenses.

The+pandemic+could+cost+Biola+%243.4+million

Photo by Thecla Li // THE CHIMES

Lacey Patrick, News Editor

On March 14, Biola announced that housing and meal plan reimbursements would be distributed to students who were forced to leave campus because of COVID-19. Vice President of University Operations and Finance Michael Pierce said this could cost the university up to $3.4 million in expenses, after accounting for the fact that the university has no further need to purchase food from Bon Appetit. 

Each student could receive $840 to $1,800 in refunds, “depending on when students checked out and the type of housing.” Refunds are coming out of the university’s “general bank account that houses all the tuition, room and board amounts that students pay,” Pierce said. 

In addition, student workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic will receive a lump sum, which he estimates will cost $500,000 to the university in total. If additional funds are needed, Pierce said the university will draw from its investments.

RESPONDING TO THE LOSS OF REVENUE

Though the millions in expenses was originally meant to fund the university’s operations, Pierce said the university’s finances are currently stable. The university is trimming non-essential expenses, halting corporate credit card spending, implementing new procedures to minimize university expenses, not allowing travel and stopping construction on Bardwell Hall until the administration has a better understanding of fall enrollment numbers.

The university is also exploring other options, pursuing different grants and funding opportunities, as well as working with its bankers for short-term financing.

“The university’s finances are stable at this time primarily due to good stewardship of the funds under the direction of our Board of Trustees,” Pierce said in an interview conducted via email. “We have reserves to cover a small shortfall due to COVID-19. However, if this were to become a longer term issue, with an impact on summer or fall enrollment, it could have a significant impact on our finances.”

The CARES Act, passed by Congress on March 27, may help cover the expenses lost from the pandemic. The CARES Act is a relief package that allocates over $30 billion to education. Forbes reported that schools with larger populations and a higher rate of low-income students will receive the most aid. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Biola will receive $3,922,227 under the CARES Act.

COVID-19 VS. HIGHER EDUCATION

According to the Chicago Tribune, of the $30 billion for education relief in the CARES Act, only 46% is earmarked for higher education. The American Council on Education, along with other associations that together represent nearly every school in the country, initially petitioned for $50 billion in federal support for students and institutions. 

Concerns of low enrollment have struck universities everywhere, causing some to extend application deadlines or make ACT and SAT test scores optional. Pierce said that at this point, Biola does not know how the pandemic will affect enrollment in the fall. However, he assured the university is looking into possible scenarios to prepare as much as possible.

0 0 vote
Article Rating