Negotiators are close to securing a final stimulus package bill (H.R. 6379) in response to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and it is projected to be nearly $2.5 trillion. Constituents and small businesses are eager to see what relief will be offered for lost income, although a sizable chunk of the package will go to hospitals, higher education institutions, congressionally chartered universities, and private agencies under contract with the federal government.

To date, only five congressionally chartered private universities exist in the United States and are located in the District of Columbia: Howard University, Gallaudet University, American University, Georgetown University, and George Washington University (Wikipedia). Sources vary on whether the Institute of American Indian Arts is still a congressionally chartered university.

A whopping $13 million will be allocated to Howard University to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus,” which includes compensation for university, employee, and student expenses directly related to the coronavirus until September 30, 2020 (H.R. 6379, pg. 122). A total of $7 million will also be made available to Gallaudet University for the exact same reasons previously stated, mainly to manage the lapse of funding. (H.R. 6379, pg. 119).

This is somewhat strange, as American University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the Institute of American Indian Arts are not receiving funds at all. Donations made to private universities are likely to take a big hit this year due to the pandemic, but that applies to every private university–not just Howard University and Gallaudet University.

Howard University is a historically black university that serves 9,969 students and, as of 2018, had $667,535,000 in net assets (read pg. 4). Gallaudet University, the world’s only university where all programs and services are explicitly designed for Deaf* students, has an estimated population of 1,523 students and, as of 2016, had $368,710,357 in net assets (read pg. 3).

Deaf Vee Journal searched public announcements and updates related to COVID-19 on Gallaudet University’s official website that may have indicated that Gallaudet University had requested additional congressional funding, and there has been no such announcement.

Given the large amounts of net assets both universities have, what makes it necessary for them to receive earmarked funding for the coronavirus response?