Tester Secures $31 Million in Relief for Montana Colleges and Universities Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

Funds will help stabilize critical higher education institutions, help students continue learning

U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today that Montana’s colleges and universities will receive an estimated $31 million in relief as a part of the coronavirus relief package signed into law last week, which also included $1.25 billion for Montana’s overall relief efforts.

“Montana’s colleges and universities help drive our state’s economy, pioneer advances in medicine and technology, and educate the next generation of students-in short, their missions are critical and we simply can’t leave them behind,” Tester said. “This funding will help provide some relief and certainty to ensure our higher education institutions have the tools they need stay afloat during these uncertain times.”

Tester announced that the $31 million will be provided by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund that Tester fought to include in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Colleges and universities are facing shortfalls of millions of dollars due to COVID-19, as students vacate dorms, athletic events are cancelled, and schools and educators adapt and institute distance-learning programs. Higher education institutions can use these funds to bridge the gap and continue providing services to students.

Tester pushed Senate leadership to include colleges and universities in the coronavirus relief package, urging Congress to consider the importance of education in maintaining America’s global educational edge. The CARES Act provides needed relief to those with student debt and allows federal student loan borrowers to defer their loan payments through September 30 to eliminate that financial pressure during the pandemic. Tester’s bill ensuring no Montanan looking to qualify for Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) will be penalized for missing a payment during a national or public health emergency was also included in the CARES Act.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, after 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresouces for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak