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Monday, March 01, 2021

UW-Madison begins to distribute second round of pandemic relief financial aid

Over 4,000 UW-Madison students who were financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic began to receive the university’s second round of emergency grant funding on Monday. 

According to a Feb. 15 news release, undergraduate Federal Pell Grant recipients were the first group to receive notice of the emergency grant. The Office of Student Financial Aid contacted recipients via email, saying qualified students would automatically obtain the $1,000 emergency grant.

Funding comes from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II, which allotted nearly $9.9 million to UW-Madison for emergency COVID-19 aid.

“In addition to the students receiving automatic grants, some of these funds will be reserved for any enrolled UW–Madison undergraduate or graduate student experiencing emergency financial hardship that renders them unable to meet immediate, essential expenses,” said Office of Student Financial Aid Communications Manager Karla Weber. 

This includes emergency aid requests, which are reviewed by the university on a rolling basis.

Weber said that Federal Pell Grant eligibility is determined by students’ expected family contributions (EFC). Expected family contribution can be calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).   

“The FAFSA is an application that many students are eligible to submit — though the types of financial aid a student can get from submitting the FAFSA is what can vary — from loans, grants and/or work-study,” said Weber.

Any enrolled UW-Madison undergraduate student meeting these requirements can submit an emergency funding application using the online Emergency Support Request form located in the MyUW Student Center. 

According to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, the UW “will continue to offer resources where [it] can and to advocate for future support from the federal government.”

Private funding has been established as well for students who may not meet criteria for emergency financial funding. The UW Foundation is raising funds to continue to grow the UW–Madison Emergency Student Support Fund. 

Fund distribution follows an early February UW press release which said the university will provide income continuation in the amount of $2.75 million for student employees. 

The Office of Student Financial Aid teamed up with Student Affairs and the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) to help students in need. These entities encourage students to reach out if basic needs such as housing, day care and food are not met — regardless of whether students meet emergency funding criteria.

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ASM also passed its own legislation last month calling for a $2 million COVID-19 relief package. Federal stimulus Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act checks were unable to help all students in need at the university, leading ASM to seek financial support for them. The university has refused to implement the relief fund over concerns about the system’s legality.

Weber said students should ask for help and reach out to the Office of Student Financial Aid team to further discuss what options might be available. Students can apply for emergency support and meet with Financial Aid team members on the Office of Student Financial Aid website. 

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