The University of Maine campus in Orono is seen March 12, 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support our critical reporting on the coronavirus by purchasing a digital subscription or donating directly to the newsroom.

College students in Maine, and the schools they attend, are receiving more than $41 million in federal funds to assist them with the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, from the coronavirus relief bill signed last month, was announced by Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who said it will help students pay for needs such as food, housing and technology.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

About $17 million of those funds will go to the University of Maine System, and at least half will go directly to aid for students. University system spokesperson Dan Demeritt said officials are planning to have guidance in place by next week on how that money will be disbursed to students.

“It’s too soon to tell exactly how those dollars will be allocated. But the University of Maine System is committed to making those funds available to students as fast as possible,” he said.

Demeritt said the university system has already refunded parts of room and board payments, and is paying work-study students through the end of the semester. The pandemic has already cost the system’s universities at least $20 million.

“To the extent that there is federal aid available — and this is hopefully a beginning — we’ll be looking to help fill some of those budget holes. So we can continue to maintain access to programming and our campuses,” he said.

Maine’s community college system and several private colleges also received funds from the act.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.