AUGUST 31, 2021 — UTSA is allocating millions in relief funding to advance student success and innovative excellence initiatives to support students, faculty and staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
These efforts are supported by funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which provides emergency financial aid to higher education institutions. UTSA has received approximately $176.4 million in federal HEERF funding to date, distributed in three phases over the course of 2020-21.
Approximately $73 million of the university’s HEERF funding was designated for emergency student financial aid and grants. After the U.S. Department of Education announced in May that colleges could use funds to cover debt students owe, the university cleared 269 outstanding balances from students’ accounts.
The remainder, totaling approximately $103.3 million, is designated as institutional support and has been allocated to cover a wide range of recovery operations and institutional improvements, including strategies to transform the learning environment. This includes classroom renovations, upgraded learning technology, instructional design and more. More than $19 million of the institution’s portion has been allocated to additional emergency aid grants for students.
“The university’s HEERF allocations offer a unique opportunity to improve the learning environment for our Roadrunners, while still providing significant support to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Veronica Salazar Mendez, UTSA’s chief financial officer and senior vice president for business affairs. “Throughout the challenges of the last year, our students, faculty and staff have remained our top priority. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways to invest our institutional HEERF funds to provide the best possible Roadrunner experience.”
These transformative funds are being distributed among three university divisions: Academic Affairs, Business Affairs and University Technology Solutions. Working in close collaboration, each division will contribute to wide-scale innovative improvements to the learning environment.
Classroom improvements and upgrades are an ongoing initiative for UTSA as part of the university’s goal to provide the highest quality learning experience for students. Six million dollars of the HEERF II institutional allocation has been designated to this purpose. Once complete, these classrooms will support a variety of learning modalities, including synchronous, asynchronous, hybrid and active classroom learning.
Supporting safe and engaging virtual and in-person learning is a priority for much of HEERF II’s institutional funding allocation, with $22.1 million designated to technology support and upgrades. An additional $2 million was designated to improve airflow in classrooms and buildings, which ensures air safety by reducing buildup of airborne contaminants. Almost $1 million has been allocated to replace bathroom fixtures with touchless fixtures.
Additional institutional funding is designated for equipment upgrades for the university’s remote workforce, a virtual desktop interface and Wi-Fi support and more. Student support services for online tutoring and 24/7 counseling will also receive portions of the institutional allocation.
Implementation of a third allocation of HEERF funding will begin in the coming months. Of these funds, $91.9 million allocation will go to emergency student aid ($43.5 million) and institutional funding ($43.1 million), which will provide further support to improving the learning environment, among other strategies.
A full breakdown of HEERF usage is available online.
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