New restrictions placed on CARES Act cash distribution to EU students

Category:  News
Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 at 2:24 PM

New restrictions have been placed on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that was originally set to deliver $450 to “every currently enrolled student” at Edinboro University. A mid-April email announced that each EU student would receive that amount, but new eligibility rules via the Department of Education has changed that.  

Unfortunately, since April 17, the federal government has imposed additional restrictions on student eligibility for this money,” read a recent follow-up email from Vice President for Marketing and Communications Angela Burrows. Ineligible students include those that did not file a FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year, DACA students, international students, those that were fully online students before COVID-19, and students that are not eligible for Title IV (federally funded) aid.  

In addition, the new rules “also impacted the dollars to be awarded to qualifying students.” 

“The Department of Education gave specific restriction but only after schools had applied for the funding. The ‘ineligible’ letter gives a list of items that had to be considered,” explained Director of Student Accounts Shari Gould in an interview with The Spectator. “Basically, if a student didn’t file a FAFSA — or files a FAFSA and was ineligible for Title IV financial aid — they were not eligible for CARES Act stimulus funds.” 

Financial Aid Director Kelly Vitelli added, “Students [also] needed to be in good standing with satisfactory academic progress and not be in a warning status or failing status for Spring 2020.” 

While there may be some frustration from students that were anticipating the $450, Gould noted the new restrictions were announced after Edinboro University had already notified students, forcing the university to re-evaluate.  

“There was a local team of individuals who met virtually to examine the [new] regulations,” said Gould. “The Director of Financial Aid Ms. Kelly Vitelli was on that team and kept us informed of the changes to the regulations that were evolving over the past four weeks.”  

Students that have received an email stating they’re eligible for the $450 can check their award status by logging into e-BILL through SCOTS on myEdinboro. Disbursements are expected Wednesday or Thursday, with direct deposit and checks generated on Friday. Students with direct deposit should receive their award as early as Monday, May 18. 

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the CARES Act authorizes expansion of the Federal Supplemental Educational and Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) to allow institutions of higher education to provide emergency grants to undergraduate and graduate students for unexpected expenses and unmet financial need as a result of a qualifying emergency. Edinboro had cited the recognition that “all students are experiencing some financial hardship in these uncertain times” as reasoning for their initial “every currently enrolled student” distribution.   

Half the CARES Act funds granted to Edinboro are being used in student payments and are being “placed in a discretionary account to meet extraordinary needs.” The other half delivered to Edinboro will help “offset a portion of the costs incurred by the University as a result of the Coronavirus." 

As for students now looking to access the funds set aside for “extraordinary circumstances,” Gould said the university is waiting for more guidance from the Department of Education. “We are hopeful there will be options for students who did not receive funding (i.e. had no FAFSA on file) to self-certify and be able to apply for the funding. Unfortunately, we don’t know if that will be the case at this time.”  

Gould continued: “There is a local ‘hardship’ application available on the home page (see middle of red banner of home screen).” She also noted the university is “fielding inquiries and questions on a case-by-case basis.”

Tags: coronavirus

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