UW-Madison plans to distribute $9.9 million to students who are facing financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic through a new federal aid package.
This emergency funding comes after the federal government passed the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), an over $81 billion effort to help educational institutions during this unprecedented time.
“We’re hopeful that these additional funds will have a positive impact on a student’s financial wellbeing and relieve some financial pressures caused by the global pandemic,” Office of Student Financial Aid Communications Manager Karla Weber told The Daily Cardinal.
According to the UW press release from Monday which announced the aid package, the amount of emergency relief requests reached a peak of 79 per week to approximately 25 requests per week during the fall 2020 semester.
For this second set of federal emergency aid, funding will be “restricted to those students who would otherwise be eligible for federal student aid,” which includes U.S. citizens, permanent non-residents and eligible non-U.S. students. Different aid options will be available for students who do not qualify for HEERF II benefits.
The release noted the Office of Student Financial Aid’s partnership with the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) and Student Affairs in directing students about funding options and other support resources.
ASM passed legislation last week detailing their own $2 million relief package aimed to help students who did not qualify for the most recent distribution of federal stimulus Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act checks. This relief, in collaboration with the Tenant Resource Center, would help students pay for rent and other housing expenses.
At the ASM meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1, ASM will vote on the implementation of a Mask Ambassador Committee as an attempt to bypass a legal issue that conflicts with UW-System Policy 820, which prohibits distributing segregated fees directly to students for individual rent and utility funding. This committee would help create the new Mask Ambassador position, which allows for ASM to grant students scholarships as they are considered a student government leader and aims to dodge Policy 820 limitations.
In March, through the first round of CARES Act funding UW distributed $9.9 million to over 9,000 students and $2.75 million to student employees. Students can apply for emergency support on the Office of Student Financial Aid website.