UMass students receive $8.3M in coronavirus emergency aid
Emergency federal financial aid grants totaling $8.3 million were distributed to more than 7,700 undergraduate students this week by the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in response to financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funds were allocated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act. Grants were calculated based upon factors including financial need and an estimate of additional costs of food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.
Eligible students were required to U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens, according to guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. The grants provide additional financial aid to students and will not affect their existing financial aid award.
A $1 million pool of financial aid is being established for graduate students, a combination of CARES funds and university money.
UMass Amherst’s disbursement of CARES Act grants follows the issuance more than $40 million in room, meal and parking refunds, some $150,000 in COVID-19 Hardship Grants, support from the Student Care and Emergency Relief Fund, short-term emergency loans, approximately $300,000 to assist students returning from study abroad with airline rebooking fees; and assistance offered by the Student Legal Services Office and international programs office.
“We are appreciative of all the support provided by the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, which pushed so hard for the inclusion of this funding that allows us to assist our neediest students in this time of crisis. Of course, we realize that for some, even with the combination of these resources, there will still be hardships. We encourage them to seek additional counsel from our Dean of Students Office,'' UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said.
“These grants will help keep the aspiration of a college degree alive for thousands of UMass students who will go on to make a valuable contribution to society. I am grateful for the skilled advocacy that our Congressional delegation demonstrated in securing these funds, and the outstanding leadership that Chancellor Subbaswamy and his team have shown in rapidly getting these critical funds to students,” said Marty Meehan, president of the UMass system.
U.S. Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern said the funding was crucial to helping students maintain their academic journey without interruption caused by unexpected financial burdens.
“When crafting the CARES Act, it was important that we took into consideration our students, educators and schools across the country.Many students found themselves displaced without the ability to afford basic essentials in the wake of the coronavirus,'' said Neal, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. “This funding may, in many cases, be a lifesaver for them.”