Students will get more than half of money from last stimulus

Information first published in Pittwire.

Of the $54.7 million Pitt received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed in March, $31.9 million will be distributed to students on all of the University’s campuses.

The bill authorized $39.6 billion in COVID-19 relief funding for higher education. The amount Pitt received is more than the two previous federal aid packages combined.

Colleges are required to distribute half of the ARPA money to students to help cover expenses related to the disruption caused by COVID-19. Pitt will distribute half of the money to undergraduate and graduate students (see below) and an additional $4.5 million to some doctoral and graduate students whose funding was exhausted by the end of the spring 2021 or summer 2021 terms to assist them with degree completion.

With this third round of federal funding, Pitt has received a total of $111 million in relief funds, with $58.3 million going directly to students. The University received $21.3 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020 and $30.6 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) in January 2021.

“Given the tremendous needs created by the pandemic, we felt it was important to support students in ways that went beyond the federal requirements,” Hari Sastry, Pitt’s chief financial officer, said in Pittwire.

He said the remaining $22.9 million in relief money from ARPA will be used to offset institutional expenses related to the pandemic, such as testing, personal protective equipment and new technology in the classrooms. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, COVID-related net expenses have totaled more than $160 million.

How funds will be distributed

The ARPA encourages higher education institutions to prioritize students with the greatest need, and it enables universities to provide grants to non-citizen students.

To be considered eligible, students must be enrolled at least half time for the fall 2021 term, and students can only receive one grant, which will be distributed by the week of Oct. 11, 2021. Students can give consent to use their grant to satisfy any outstanding account balance with the University if they wish.

“In accordance with the ARPA guidelines, Pitt is broadly distributing funds to graduate and undergraduate students in a way that supports and helps them complete their educational journeys,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd. “In response to effects of the pandemic, we are eager to provide grants as broadly as possible to assist our students. It is the right thing to do.” 

Pitt will distribute funding through these programs.

  • FAFSA students: Undergraduate and graduate students who, as of Sept. 16, 2021, had a 2021-22 FAFSA on file with the University and demonstrated financial need, will receive a grant of $600 or $1,200, depending on their financial need based on FAFSA information.

  • Non-FAFSA students: Undergraduate and graduate students who have not filed a FAFSA are receiving an email at their email address from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid that outlines a process to receive a grant in the event they incurred unexpected expenses during the pandemic. The application asks students to attest to emergency needs in categories such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) and childcare. The deadline to apply for a grant is by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 30, 2021. 

  • Seniors with unmet need: Approximately 400 seniors will receive grants that will average $7,500, reducing each student’s unmet need to $20,000 on the Pittsburgh campus and $15,000 on the regional campuses. These seniors would have been eligible for the Pitt Success program had it been in place when they were first-year students when the program launched in 2019. Students may wish to use these funds to pay down educational loans.

The funding is available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, international students holding nonimmigrant visas, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, DREAMers and undocumented students. Any students who received an email about the grants is eligible and encouraged to apply for a grant. Citizenship status is not collected or stored through this process.

Notification of awards will be sent to students at their Pitt email address by Oct. 11, when the grants have been posted to PittPAY.

— From Pittwire