Rhode Island public colleges and universities are set to receive $90 million in federal stimulus money to help with COVID-19 related costs. 

The latest coronavirus stimulus relief package approved in early March will give the University of Rhode Island roughly $30 million, Rhode Island College just under $22 million and the Community College of Rhode Island over $39 million, according to the state Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. 

“These funds are going to make sure that college is still an option for many Rhode Islanders, given the economic impact that COVID has had,” said Catherine McConnell, director of strategic initiatives at the state Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner.

In the last year, all three of Rhode Island’s public universities faced budget deficits of several million dollars. 

“All higher [education] is hurting because people are hurting, and our economy is hurting,” said McConnell. “It is our job as higher ed to try and figure it out. But there is always more that is needed.”

McConnell said most of the money would go to students in the form of financial aid, although the state is still reviewing federal guidelines on how the stimulus funding may be spent. 

Private institutions in the state are also receiving federal aid, though not nearly as much. 

Brian Williams, chief of staff at Roger Williams University, said the university received $3.9 million, which it put towards financial aid for over 4,000 students. 

“That federal money helps keep the university whole, and not need to lessen the experience by having significant cuts in any area and keeps it from impacting students and families at a time when increasing college costs is something we’re all incredibly mindful of here,” said Williams. 

Steve Maurano, director of communications at Providence College, said university officials expect to receive $3.85 million in federal support, most of which will be spent on financial aid. 

“Our COVID-related expenditures have been $13 million in the current fiscal year this far, so it helps,” Maurano said. “We’re grateful for the money, but it certainly doesn’t offset the expenditures on a one-to-one basis by any means.”

McConnell agreed. She said this stimulus package is a good first step, but universities will need another influx of cash to balance their budgets.