South Carolina State University is considering using federal coronavirus relief funds for everything from scholarships to improving information technology infrastructure.

The university has $26.4 million remaining in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding after providing for student debt relief and balancing the budget.

“We will use it to beautify this campus, to fix many things. … The first thing, which is an absolute must, is set aside university reserves and contingency funds, $5 million for that,” S.C. State Interim President Alexander Conyers told trustees during a meeting earlier this month.

Another $5.3 million has been set aside for a total upgrade of the university’s IT infrastructure.

“We absolutely must do that. We must fix everything on this campus from cradle to grave. … It’s going to cost us about $5 million to that,” he said.

Conyers said the list of possible uses for the federal money is fluid, but $1 million is tentatively set aside for marketing.

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“We will move and shift these numbers as we need to, but we must invest in marketing. If we’re going to grow enrollment, we must take advantage of placing funding that’s going to help us impact our enrollment numbers,” he said.

The university also set aside $1.4 million for student debt relief.

“Everyone knows about the $9 million that we gave last year. … We have an opportunity now for some students who are enrolled currently who did not get any money from the first debt relief, to give them a $1,000. We’ve got about 1,400 students in that category,” Conyers said.

He continued, “That’s not cash to them, that’s $1,000 paid on their bill. So, again, we’re paying ourselves, helping students stay in school. That’s $1,000 less that they have to worry about.”

Also, $1 million would go toward commitment scholarships as the university looks toward fall 2022.

“We set aside $1 million for up to 1,000 students. We will give them $1,000 if they commit to South Carolina State by this date. Obviously, they don’t get the money unless they show up here. That’s what we did last year at the end, trying to boost our numbers … and that’s how we came up with the largest freshman class in history,” Conyers said.

He said $500,000 has also been set aside for providing temporary personnel, training and system implementation in the finance department to help address issues which S.C. State Controller Brenda Walker pointed out.

“Ms. Walker has identified that much of our problems in finance stem from not utilizing the system as it is intended, not getting everything out of that system that it can do for us. So we will spend the money for the appropriate training, bring in consultants to help us get to that point,” he said.

The university’s 1890 Research and Extension program would receive $500,000.

“They’re all over the state, but federal dollars will not allow them to recruit for us. So that will allow us to give them supplemental materials when they’re out in these 46 counties, to allow them to help us recruit,” Conyers said.

Athletics could receive $2.5 million “primarily for Title IX improvements, scoreboards, things that we were looking at leasing and financing,” Conyers said.

“This will allow us now to go out and purchase and complete this work in a more timely fashion,” he said.

The university is looking at spending $700,000 for new band instruments. Also, $1 million would go to student affairs for the creation of outdoor spaces and temporary security personnel.

“Not police officers, (but) public safety personnel,” Conyers said.

Another $7.5 million would remain, “for academics, academic buildings, safety issues, as well as security on the campus,” Conyers said.

“We have not yet broken that $7.5 million down as to how it will be spent. … Again, this is very fluid. So if you have some suggestions, please send them to me,” he said.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD.

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