UMSL distributes more than $2.9 million in CARES Act funds in less than 48 hours

by | May 4, 2020

Students were invited to apply on a first-come, first-served basis for grants of up to $2,000 to assist with financial hardships or expenses related to COVID-19.

Members of the Office of Student Financial Aid managed the application process for and helped distribute more than $2.9 million in CARES Act grants for students with financial needs. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis has acted swiftly to award more than $2.9 million in funding from the CARES Act to students in need.

UMSL invited students to apply for grants of up to $2,000 to assist with financial hardships or expenses related to COVID-19 with funding received through the legislation, enacted at the end of March. The university’s allotment was determined by the number of full-time Pell Grant students enrolled this semester.

The Office of Student Financial Aid received more than 1,600 applications in 24 hours before shutting down the portal to apply on Thursday afternoon. Staff reviewed the applications and approved funding for more than 900 students on Thursday alone and will review the remainder of the applications today and begin processing checks this afternoon.

These emergency grants are assisting students with food or housing insecurity, medical expenses, childcare or lack of access to technology or other materials needed to continue their educational pursuits.

“This emergency funding is vital for our students to be able to maintain and make ends meet during this pandemic,” said Alan Byrd, UMSL’s vice provost for enrollment management. “Our staff in Student Financial Aid have witnessed the financial stress that our students are facing for weeks now, so they did not hesitate to jump on this opportunity to help them. We quickly put together a team to create an application for the CARES Act Grant and develop a review process.

“I am so proud of the way we stepped up to get these grants to our students who desperately need them.”

Even more is necessary during this unprecedented time. The UMSL Care Team has been working steadily since the onset of the pandemic to connect students with SNAP benefits or additional food resources, emergency diapers or other emergency baby needs, technology support, crisis counseling or academic assistance. It has helped with applications for unemployment benefits related to COVID-19 and set up Zoom appointments with an UMSL social worker to determine other avenues for support.

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Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik