$1.9M in grants available; UNK outlines student CARES Act process

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney students disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic are offered immediate access today to grants of $250 to $2,000 cash totaling $1.9 million.

Funds promised as part of the U.S. CARES Act/Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund are available immediately by application through a link sent directly to students who qualify for federal aid, demonstrated by having filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The grants will apply to expenses that students have incurred beginning March 13 that are directly caused by disruption to their instruction at UNK – items such as housing, moving or transportation expenses, food, technology, educational supplies and services such as child care and health care. Students must be eligible for federal student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Organizations such as the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators and American Council of Educators, as well as the U.S. Department of Education itself have worked since the passage of the CARES Act to provide guidance to colleges and universities on best practices to disburse the aid. The Secretary of Education’s intent is to aid college students whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic, “many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet.” Colleges and universities were tasked with developing procedures to allocate the funds directly to students.

The $1.9 million allocated to UNK is based on enrollment. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides roughly $14 billion to institutions of higher education. UNK will receive an additional allocation to help reimburse institutional expenses from the pandemic.

Approximately 2,867 UNK students are eligible for the grants that range up to $2,000 based on the scope of their expenses. Students enrolled in an online-only program (eCampus only) are not eligible under the Act. Students eligible will be sent an email message with a link to a form on which they will be asked to identify the types of expenses incurred. Upon eligibility verification, the grant disbursement will be made to the student’s bank account associated with their student account. Students should respond quickly since funds are limited.

Students with questions about the program and their eligibility can email finaid1@unk.edu or call 308-865-8520. Funds may be available through other sources being offered to support students facing emergency needs.

Ongoing updates to the university’s response to COVID-19 are on the website unk.edu/coronavirus.

More questions about the relief fund are answered at: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/heerfstudentfaqs.pdf