UMSL distributes more than $2.9 million in federal grants from Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Higher Education Emergency Relief fund grants

The Office of Student Financial Aid has worked quickly to distribute more than $2.9 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The staff approved grants of $500, $1,000 or $1,500 to 2,275 students based on need. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis has acted swiftly to award more than $2.9 million in federal funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to students in need.

UMSL invited students to apply for grants of $500, $1,000 or $1,500 to assist with financial hardships or expenses related to COVID-19 with funding received through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed in December. The university’s total allotment was determined by the number of full-time Pell Grant-eligible students enrolled this semester, and the amount each student received was determined by the student’s expected family contribution from their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If they did not have a FAFSA on file, they only qualified for the lowest amount.

The Office of Student Financial Aid received more than 2,700 applications before it had to close the portal for students to apply. Staff reviewed the applications and approved an average of $1,281 in funding for 2,275 students.

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.

“The toll of the pandemic continues to weigh heavily on all our students, and we are glad we can help deliver some relief to those with the biggest needs,” said Mitch Hess, UMSL’s director of Student Financial Services. “Our staff in Student Financial Aid has acted as swiftly as we can to process all of the applications and distribute these grants so we can assist students with expenses like rent, transportation or tuition, allowing them to continue their educational journeys uninterrupted and ultimately earn their degrees.”

Even more is necessary during this unprecedented time. The UMSL Care Team has been working 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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