University of the Southwest students eligible for assistance under the terms of the CARES Act began to receive checks from the university last week.
“Checks being sent out (from the university) will put a minimum of $575 into each eligible undergraduate student’s hands to provide emergency funding to help defray the costs of the impact of the pandemic on their academic success.” University President Quint Thurman said via email. “According to DoE (Department of Education), students not eligible to receive this aid includes international students, DACA students, and students who did not complete a federal financial aid form to establish their need for federal grants or loans (a FAFSA form).”
According to Thurman, many USW students are not eligible to receive the $1200 stimulus checks sent out last month from the federal government because of the students’ tax status. Many students who work while they are at the university had to give up their jobs when they returned home for the remainder of the term after spring break.
The DoE made available funding to USW to distribute directly to eligible undergraduate students based upon the number of students attending the university who receive Pell grants.
Students who left their belongings in their dorm rooms, will have the added cost of having to come back to campus at some point to clean their rooms and retrieve their possessions. Some students desperately need any emergency aid the university can distribute to them.
Larger universities received tens of millions of dollars for this purpose while USW received $217,000 the DoE has designated expressly for the purpose of direct emergency aid to students. The DoE also asked each institution determine the specific amounts that would be allocated to each student and that distribution occur as soon as possible.
Rather than require students to ask for it (and provide a justification for a certain amount they might request), and risk substantially delaying the allocation process, USW relied on student financial aid records to determine how much each eligible student should receive. Based upon need, a few students will receive amounts that are considerably higher than the $575 median amount most will receive.
In addition, USW is planning to substantially reduce spring housing and meal plan costs for students living on campus who left at spring break and did not return for the last few weeks of the semester while they completed their classes online.
University provost Ryan Tipton has been instrumental in putting together a spreadsheet for the business office that details which students will receive emergency aid checks and the amounts based upon their financial needs.
Students have been encouraged to contact Tipton to get specific information about the number of checks that will be sent out. The total will slightly exceed the $217,000 the DoE allocated for USW to spend on emergency aid.
The remainder (the other half of the DoE allocation to USW, approximately $217,000 of the $435,000 of initial award) will be used to offset lost housing and meal plan revenue due to the early departure of students from campus—estimated at nearly half a million dollars.