CARES Act provides funds for eligible students

Truman State University has received government funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act. Half of the funds are being provided to students as emergency grants and half are being used by the University as institutional support. 

According to Marla Fernandez, director of the Financial Aid Office, Truman was given approval for the student portion of the CARES Act on April 25, 2020, and it has until April 24, 2021 to distribute the funds. 

Students are eligible unless they were enrolled in online classes only for spring 2020, enrolled in fewer than six credit hours for spring 2020, are non-degree seeking, have an unresolved C flag on the FAFSA, withdrew from the spring 2020 semester or are not Title IV eligible because of a Satisfactory Academic Progress Issue. 2020-21 freshmen are currently not eligible. 

“If we run out of students who were enrolled in the spring term who are eligible, we may revamp and take another look at it to see who would be eligible in the current term,” Fernandez said. 

Fernandez noted that students who have need, but are not eligible, should contact the Financial Aid Office. While they will not receive funds from the CARES Act, they might qualify for other assistance. The amount and type of aid will depend on the individual and their specific needs. 

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Information about the CARES Act and the form needed to receive aid can be found on Truman’s website. The form requires the student’s name and signature. Each student will also need to check the respective box if they have need in the areas of food, housing, course materials, health care, child care or technology related expenses. Fernandez said if a student checks the box for child care or medical expenses, additional documentation might be required. 

Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said the University received $1.6 million for direct student support, and $1.6 million for institutional support. The University can only withdraw for institutional support the same amount of money it has given to students. Rector said the University has distributed a total of $1.134 million to students, meaning the University can use $1.134 million for institutional support. 

 “[The institutional support fund] was used to offset our losses when we did refunds to all the students who moved out of the residence halls,” Rector said. 

He added that since July 1, the University has distributed $118,000 to students, leaving about $420,000 from the CARES Act that the University can give to students.

Fernandez said in order to distribute the remaining funds from the CARES Act, the Financial Aid Office has been reaching out to students through phone calls, emails and advertising. If a student who calls or emails the Financial Aid Office has not applied, the office will send them the form and ask them to fill it out if they are eligible. 

Fernandez said she thinks the most difficult aspect of managing the CARES Act funds has been the changing guidance from the Department of Education. This changing guidance has meant that several times a plan was almost implemented by Truman and then had to be canceled at the last minute. Once firm guidelines were established, the Financial Aid Office was able to get aid out to students as quickly as possible, according to Fernandez. 

“If you think you’re eligible and have not submitted a request form, please take a look at that request form and if there’s expenses you have incurred, please fill that out and give it to our office,” Fernandez said. “We would love to be able to help you out if you need it … we are here to help you.”