The University of Maryland will receive about $21 million from the federal government to compensate for financial losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Education Department announced Thursday.

At least half of the money will be directed toward financial aid grants for students. The aid comes as part of the CARES Act — the emergency relief bill Congress passed in March — which allocated nearly $14 billion for higher education institutions.

This university is expected to lose $87 million this semester due to the switch to distance learning, among other factors, university President Wallace Loh wrote in an email to faculty and staff April 2. Loh also suspended the hiring of all faculty and staff.

[Read more: UMD orders hiring freeze to offset losses from coronavirus closures]

“Faced with the greatest crisis of our time, higher education needs financial relief on a scale that only the Federal Government can provide,” Loh wrote in the email. “It soothes the pain for awhile and keeps money flowing through parts of the inactive economy.”