With the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, UCR has received a total of $29,734,626 in restitution funds. As per the provisions given within the CARES Act, half this sum at minimum has been specifically set aside to provide emergency financial grants to all students, with the notable exclusion of international and undocumented students.
On Friday, May 1, UCR sent out an informational email en masse to all undergraduate and graduate students who qualified to receive benefits from the CARES Act. Within the email, students were told to expect their cash grant in the following days, either through direct deposit or mail. In an interview with The Highlander, the Director of UCR’s Financial Aid Office, Jose A. Aguilar expounded upon the qualifications. He stated, “Funding allocations were based on full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of students who were not enrolled in a distance education prior to COVID-19. More funding should go to students with highest financial aid need and to more vulnerable populations.”
Per these qualifications, grant amounts varied anywhere from $250 to $1,500, depending upon the individual students’ anticipated economic situations, the highest amounts being given to those who needed it the most. In the email accompanying the supplementary money distribution announcement, students were advised to use the funds in order to assuage any issues that might have arisen with the onslaught of COVID-19, such as housing, food and job losses.
Third-year undeclared major, Justine Pham, stated that the auxiliary funds provided some benefit to her family’s housing issues. “It helped cover one month’s rent … but even with a high amount of aid, I’m just trying to save the rest, because the rest isn’t enough to pay much else,” said Pham.
In accordance with the Financial Aid Office, if students received insufficient or no funds and their financial situation has worsened significantly due to the current circumstances surrounding the pandemic, they are encouraged to immediately contact the Financial Aid Office for counseling and advice on what other steps they should be taking in order to accommodate related changes. Another option available to individuals in a suddenly dire position is to submit an appeal for a complete reassessment of their total home income.
As for the fate of the remaining $14.9 million allotted to UCR, there still has yet to be an official consensus. According to Aguilar’s final statements, the other half of the funds are “designated for institutional administration for COVID-19 related expenditures.” However, until they receive further guidance on the matter, the UCR administration will wait to make a final decision.