Due to the passage of a new act in the U.S. Congress, more funds for COVID-19 relief will soon be available to students. This fresh act is called the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The Financial Aid Office received information about this act on Jan. 14 from the U.S. Department of Education.
Marla Fernandez, director of financial aid, said the U.S. Department of Education must receive an annual report on CARES Act funds from the University before the new funds can be sent. This report is due Feb. 1, 2021.
The amount of aid available will be equal to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds from last semester. The CRRSAA allocates $1,672,672 in relief funds to students and $3,447,070 in relief funds to the University.
“What [institutional funds] can be used for is curtailed in the details of the act, these funds can only be used for certain things,” Fernandez said.
These two acts differ in eligibility standards and criteria for students requesting funds. Unlike the CARES act, the new act denotes that aid will be available to students with “exceptional need.”
The U.S. Department of Education indicated that students who receive Pell Grants are an example of a student with exceptional need, but was unclear about what other factors may be a part of determining need, according to Fernandez.
Although there might be fewer students eligible for aid with the new eligibility criteria, aid might be able to be used for a broader range of expenses.
“Eligible expenses could be anything within the cost of attendance such as tuition, housing, food, textbooks, supplies and personal expenses,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez said the maximum amount of aid available to each student is unclear at this time.
The Financial Aid Office is planning to examine costs incurred by students and financial need before sending emails to students deemed eligible. The date that funds will be available is not certain yet, as the Financial Aid Office still must send the annual report to the Department of Education and receive the funds.
If a student is in need of financial aid before the CRRSAA funds are available, they can contact the Financial Aid Office to inquire about other kinds of financial aid available. The Financial Aid Office can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“At this point, as far as the CRRSAA funds go, we don’t know which students are eligible yet, but as soon as we do we plan to communicate with eligible students,” Fernandez said.