Emergency funding frustrations grow for students in Chapel Hill
The University is beginning to release emergency funding from the federal coronavirus relief bill for students who have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, but some students have criticized the administration for moving too slowly to release funds and not being transparent about the process.Posted — Updated
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress in late March, included relief funding for higher education institutions. UNC received more than $17 million from the bill, which allocates funds based on the number of Pell Grant recipients, a federal aid program for low-income students, and total full-time students at each institution.
Some students have criticized the administration's handling of the money.
Nearly 1,200 students have signed a petition, asking UNC to change its plans for the CARES Act Funding. Those who depend on need based scholarships and grants believe they aren't getting the money they're owed.
"If your grants are reduced by $2,000 your CARES Act money should be at least $3,000," said Brian Keys, a senior who's researched the funding and spoke with university leaders about the distribution plans.
Many students are concerned about where the money is going and why it's taking so long to distribute.
In a statement, the university said, "While not every student with financial need will necessarily receive a CARES Act grant, our goal is to ensure there are sufficient university funds to meet the demonstrated financial needs of all students during this pandemic."
According to the statement, about half of the funds disbursed are federal CARES Act funds.
CARES Act grants are awarded directly to students for qualifying expenses such as food, housing, technology, childcare, medical needs and other expenses resulting from the disruption to campus.
Grant amounts vary by student and are unique to each student's circumstances. To comply with federal requirements, CARES Act funds are targeted to students who can demonstrate need through the FAFSA, using guidelines established by the United States Department of Education.
However, much of the need students have demonstrated is a result of loss of employment or income of one or both parents.
The students WRAL News talked to believe the money should be separate from their financial aid packages.
According to the university, they've fulfilled 2,000 student requests, disbursing more than $2 million in CARES Act funds so far.
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