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CARES Act Emergency Grants and Reduced Fees for Summer Announced by UofA

More than $7.7 million in CARES Act emergency grants will be distributed to eligible students and some fees for summer classes will be eliminated.
Credit: University of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19.

One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees endorsed proposals Monday to distribute more than $7.7 million in CARES Act emergency grants to eligible students and to eliminate some fees for summer classes to reflect the current remote-learning environment.

Chancellor Joe Steinmetz provided details about both initiatives in a message to campus on May 4.

This and other updates can be found on the university's Coronavirus Update site.

"The current pandemic has been tough on everybody, particularly students who may have lost jobs on campus and off, not to mention their families, who may have been hard hit as well," Steinmetz said. "We're trying to find every possible way we can to decrease the severity of the economic pinch our campus community is feeling."

CARES Act grants will be made to students based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) reported in a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2019-20 or 2020-21.

Consistent with the U.S. Department of Education guidance, distribution will be based on a tiered approach with students with the greatest need, according to their EFC, being awarded higher amounts.

In the initial distribution, all undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled exclusively in on-campus degree or certificate programs during the spring 2020 semester who meet the criteria established by the U.S. Department of Education and have completed a FAFSA for 2020 or 2021 as of May 1 are eligible for these emergency grants.

The Office of Student Financial Aid will use FAFSA data to determine eligibility and the amount of the grant based on EFC tiers.

Those students currently eligible will receive an email confirming their eligibility.

Additionally, students who meet the criteria and complete a FAFSA between now and June 1, but who did not receive funds in the initial distribution, are eligible for an emergency grant on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

Students who are eligible but have not yet filed a FAFSA for 2019-20 or 2020-21 can do so on the Federal Student Aid website.

Details on eligibility, funding tiers, and distribution for the CARES Act funds can be found at the U of A's CARES Information Page

If you meet the requirements, your aid will be directly deposited into your account through BankMobile.

Eligible students are encouraged to:

  • Update their mailing addresses in UAConnect
  • Make or review their refund delivery preferences with BankMobile
  • Contact BankMobile with any questions you may have regarding those delivery preferences

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The board also supported the university's proposal to reduce fees for summer 2020 classes by more than $27 per credit hour with some fees being eliminated for summer sessions.

Facilities, activities, and transit fees were eliminated for all summer session classes, and other fees were reduced.

"We felt like we needed to adjust our fees to better reflect our current remote-learning environment," Chancellor Steinmetz said. "The new rate is more reflective of the online experience versus the face-to-face experience."

Additionally, the board approved a resolution to have on-campus classes in the fall.

As the chancellor mentioned last week, this is the hope and intent, and the U of A COVID-19 Response Team will be planning for multiple contingencies while adjusting plans as needed to keep campus safe.

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