With a large pot of federal stimulus money suddenly available and waiting to be spent, one beneficiary of the cash will be Kansas University.
The benefit will come in part from large sums of money targeted for federal organizations that fund KU research, as well as more funds available for low-income students who attend college.
The National Institutes of Health, the largest single funding source for research on the campus, will have an increased budget of 34 percent from stimulus funds over the next two years, and another major financial source for research at KU, the National Science Foundation, will have a 44 percent increase in available money, said Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies.
The increases mean billions of additional dollars will be available nationwide for research, and KU has already begun to capitalize on the new funds, Warren said.
Although there will be limited new competitions, the additional funds will mostly go toward funding grants already up for submission.
“These are grants that are already in review cycles,” Warren said. “We’re already in that lottery.”
At the beginning of the week, KU had already received three grants funded with stimulus dollars. As those stimulus awards come in, they come with additional guidelines, including rules detailing how quickly the money must be spent.
Some grants must be reworked to fit within a two-year time frame, Warren said.
KU also is working to secure federal funds available through organizations like NIH and NSF for things like building renovations and purchasing equipment.
Such funds are separate from stimulus money that could be provided to the state if the Legislature does not cut funds beyond required levels, Warren said.
KU has put together a group to try to access the funds for equipment and building renovation and likely will be submitting proposals this spring, Warren said.
The money could go toward renovating old labs in Malott and Haworth halls, for example.
“The maximum impact on this campus could be very substantial increases in funding,” Warren said.
The only concern the university has is that the funding is only available for two years, so it’s important to remember that eventually, the increases will go away, he said.
Other stimulus funds will go toward other areas, said Todd Cohen, a university spokesman, including money for federal Pell Grants to lower-income students.
Cohen said stimulus funding will provide a permanent increase in Pell Grant maximum awards to $5,350 annually, from $4,731 for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Cohen said additional increases to the program have been planned in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal.
The grant generally applies to families making $40,000 or less per year. Cohen said KU has about 3,200 Pell-eligible students attending in a given year and expects about 240 more Pell-eligible students in the coming academic year.
More students are submitting federal aid forms, he said.
“We’re about 6 percent above last year in applications for financial aid,” Cohen said.
The stimulus bill also increases the tuition tax credit — known as the Hope Scholarship — from an $1,800 maximum to a $2,500 maximum, which can only be claimed for tuition and fees, Cohen said. The credit does not generally apply to singles who earn more than $58,000 and married couples earning more than $180,000.