The University of Indianapolis will receive nearly $5 million in stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the department’s plans to distribute aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Roughly $14 billion in federal funds were set aside for higher education institutions in the CARES Act, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in an April 9 letter to college and university presidents across the nation.
According to DeVos’ letter, the CARES Act provides several different methods for distributing the nearly $14 billion in aid. As part of the aid allocation, $12.56 billion of the funds will be distributed to institutions using a student enrollment-based formula.
$4,902,143 was allocated for UIndy under this formula, according to a table released by the U.S. Department of Education on April 9. Each institution that received funding under the department’s formula has to set aside at least 50% of the funding to provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help students cover expenses that are related to the disruptions of campus operations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to DeVos’ letter.
This means that of the $4,902,143 that was allocated for UIndy, the university has to set aside at least $2,451,072 for emergency financial aid grants for students, according to a table released by the U.S. Department of Education.
DeVos said in the letter that the U.S. Department of Education is prioritizing this mode of funding so that students who need money can get it as quickly as possible.
“I gave my team a charge as soon as the CARES Act was signed into law: get support to those most in need as quickly as possible,” DeVos said in the letter. “That starts with college students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet.”
The CARES Act also gives institutions, including UIndy, significant discretion when it comes to figuring out how to award the emergency funding to students, according to DeVos’ letter.
“This means that each institution may develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds, which may include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need,” DeVos said in the letter.
According to DeVos’ letter, the only statutory requirement under the CARES Act is that the funds be used to cover the expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus. Some of those expenses fall under a student’s cost of attendance, including food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.
DeVos said in the letter that she encouraged college and university leaders to prioritize giving the funding to students with the greatest need, but also consider establishing a maximum threshold for each student so that the funds are distributed as widely as possible. Colleges and universities should consider using the maximum Federal Pell grant amount, $6,195, for the 2019-2020 academic year as the threshold, DeVos said in the letter.
If any institution, including UIndy, were to determine that its students do not have a significant financial need at this time, DeVos encouraged them to consider giving their funding to other institutions within their states or region who might have a significant need.
The department is working on allocating the remaining funding for higher education institutions from the CARES Act, DeVos said in the letter. In the coming days, the department will be providing details on how colleges and universities can apply for the remaining funding, along with any other emergency funding.
While UIndy is currently exploring giving refunds or credits to students for portions of the room and board charges for the spring semester, there has not been an official statement from the university on how the CARES Act will affect the university’s explorations as of The Reflector press time.
For our latest coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus’ impact on the University of Indianapolis, go to http://reflector.uindy.edu/tag/covid-19/.