AMHERST, Mass. – 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 Amherst, the latest in a number of steps the campus has taken to support students experiencing economic 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 a number of factors including financial need and an estimate of additional costs of food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. To receive the grants, the law requires that students must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens, according to guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. These are students who are eligible for federal aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The grants provide additional financial aid to students and will not affect their existing financial aid award.
Meanwhile, 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 a series of previous measures taken to support students. These include the issuance of more than $40 million in room, meal and parking refunds; $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 the international Programs Office.
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said, “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. We will steadfastly work with the state and federal governments, and our generous donors, to continue to help all our students pursue their studies and complete their degrees without delay or hindrance.”
UMass President Marty Meehan observed, “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.”
“I’m grateful to Chancellor Subbaswamy and his team at UMass Amherst for working so hard to support students during this crisis,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “The Massachusetts Congressional delegation worked hard to ensure this funding was included in the CARES Act, and remains firmly committed to helping students during this challenging time.”
“When crafting the CARES Act, it was important that we took into consideration our students, educators and schools across the country,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Many students found themselves displaced without the ability to afford basic essentials in the wake of the coronavirus. This funding may, in many cases, be a lifesaver for them. As we move ahead in crafting additional legislation I remain invested in assisting our colleges and universities, and their students.”