The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, to provide a $2 trillion federal funding package to address the economic impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Within that amount, an Education Stabilization Fund totaling $30.75 billion was created for both K-12 and higher education institutions to cover impacts from COVID-19. Congress set aside approximately $14.25 billion of the Education Stabilization Fund for institutions of higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).
Allocations from the HEERF were calculated by a formula that considered each institution’s student population, with a higher weighting for the number of students receiving Pell Grants. Approximately $3 M has been allocated to provide direct aid to students to cover unexpected expenses or unmet financial need related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
UA Little Rock’s primary goal in using the funds is to help eligible students meet the critical needs they are currently experiencing due to COVID-19 as they pursue a degree from UA Little Rock. A portion of the funds have been allocated to distribute to graduate students using an application and review based approach.
CARES Act Aid Application for Graduate Students
UA Little Rock understands that graduate students, including the Bowen School of Law and the Clinton School of Public Service, have experienced and continue to experience hardships due to COVID-19 and should have the option to apply for emergency financial aid grants. The UA Little Rock Graduate School has developed an application and review approach for all eligible students by which students may seek assistance through the CARES Act Aid Application.
In compliance with the CARES Act, students (undergraduates and graduates) must meet the following requirements to be eligible to receive funding:
- Eligible student per the U.S. Department of Education guidance.
- If a student submitted a valid FAFSA for the academic year 2019-20, then the student may receive emergency financial aid grants.
- If a student has not submitted a valid FAFSA but is eligible to file a FAFSA, then the student also may receive emergency financial aid grants. The criteria to participate includes but is not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting.
- Enrolled in either a primary or as secondary degree program that is not an online degree program as of March 27, 2020.
- Further, a student who receives funds must agree that the funds will be used for “expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).”
Review of Applications and Distribution of Funds
Due to the expected number of applications and the total dollar amount allocated, the maximum award for graduate students will be $500. Applications received by the graduate school will be reviewed weekly with disbursements via direct deposit quickly following. The following criteria will be used to determine the amount of the emergency aid awarded:
- Eligibility (see above)
- Enrollment Status (full time/ part time)
- Reported Expenses
- Financial Need (Based on FAFSA or provided 2019 Tax information)