Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announces plan that will help universities in Virginia recover from COVID-19 debts
BY SUDIKSHA KOCHI STAFF WRITER
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, joined by President Gregory Washington and state legislators on campus, announced a refinancing plan on Sept. 22, that will offer public colleges and universities in Virginia debt relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, the Commonwealth of Virginia will refinance bonds issued by the Treasury Board of Virginia and the Virginia College Building Authority to take advantage of the low interest rates and help institutions save up to $300 million.
“Families all over the country are taking advantage of record-low interest rates to refinance their home mortgages, and we want our public institutions to benefit as well,” Northam said. “Refinancing will free up millions of dollars in savings allowing our colleges and universities to make critical investments, meet the needs of Virginia students, and continue offering a world-class education.”
Secretary of Finance Aubrey Lane stated in the press release that institutions are navigating challenging times, with the shift from in-person to online classes and the uncertainty of whether students will be returning to campus. Under the plan, institutions will have extended time to make payments on TBV and VCBA bonds. The extended time will help with capital projects, as Virginia institutions have faced a decline in revenue used to make those payments.
“As stewards of the Commonwealth’s finances, we are always seeking creative solutions to financial issues,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Torian in the press release. “Helping public colleges and universities restructure their debt obligations allows them to focus their resources on the pressing needs they face right now as a result of the pandemic.”
According to the press release, if Mason were to adopt the plan set by Northam, it would save up to $53.8 million, as the institution is already facing a shortfall of $115 million. This would help Mason advance through the semester with more testing protocols and social distancing measures to provide for the safety and health of students.