By Kara Furlong
NASHVILLE, TN — Vanderbilt University will use $2.8 million it receives as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to directly support students who have demonstrated need and are facing significant financial challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The disbursement, from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, is designed to prioritize students with the greatest demonstrated need and ensure that funds are distributed as widely as possible.
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the hardships—financial and otherwise—presented by this global crisis continue to be felt deeply and widely by our students, their families and many others in the Vanderbilt community,” Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente said. “The well-being and success of our students remain our top priority, and we are committed to doing all that we can to support them during this incredibly challenging time.”
In alignment with Department of Education recommendations, Vanderbilt will distribute the CARES Act funds to federal aid applicants with the greatest identified need, i.e. those with an expected family contribution of $10,000 or less. In addition, each undergraduate recipient must have received financial aid for the spring 2020 semester, and each graduate or professional school recipient must have received federal student loans this spring.
Each eligible student will receive $1,100. Some 20 percent of Vanderbilt’s students—split near-evenly among undergraduates, graduate and professional students—will receive the funds. Vanderbilt will disburse funds to qualifying students through the normal process via Student Accounts in the coming days.
The CARES Act funding is one of a series of ways Vanderbilt is addressing the needs of low-income students during the global COVID-19 public health crisis.
Undergraduate students receiving aid through Opportunity Vanderbilt have received a housing and dining adjustment. All students eligible for Federal Work Study who have submitted their work hours continue to receive their normal pay—regardless of whether they are working or not.
On March 20, the university announced it was providing $1 million to launch a Student Hardship Fund to help undergraduate, graduate and professional students with demonstrated need by alleviating financial burdens associated with the unexpected and abrupt changes to their Vanderbilt experience necessitated by the crisis. To date, 1,241 students, including undergraduate, graduate and professional, have received funding from the Student Hardship Fund.
The university’s efforts to assist students who have demonstrated need and are experiencing significant financial challenges are cumulative—meaning students who have previously received housing and dining adjustments and/or Federal Work Study payments may still seek an individual review through Financial Aid, apply for the Student Hardship Fund, and, if eligible, receive an additional $1,100 through the CARES Act disbursement.
Students who have expenses that have not been covered already can appeal for an individual review directly to the Office of Student Financial Aid for additional assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org.