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UW-Madison to send $28.6 million in federal pandemic aid to students this year

Automatic payments hit students’ bank accounts this week, university officials said.
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - UW-Madison says thousands of students saw emergency cash hit their bank accounts this week, as part of the latest round of federal pandemic relief.

According to Helen Faith, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, the university has $28.6 million to give to students this year. She said $7.7 million in automatic payments have already gone to more than 6,500 “high-need” students, or those who get Federal Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid. Each student recipient got between $750 and $1,750.

These federal dollars are part of round three in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), authorized by Congress in March as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“This is an entirely different type of funding,” Faith said. “We really haven’t seen this prior to the CARES Act, and so it’s very exciting. It’s very new. We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of how best to determine for our particular student body what those needs are and how best to serve them.”

She added, “This was really the first time I’ve seen anything like this in the 21 years that I’ve been doing this work.”

Of the $28.6 million dollars, the university has $1.9 million left to clear balances on emergency loans and student accounts, Faith explained, as well as $19 million to directly give to students who apply for aid.

Students who want to apply for emergency pandemic relief do not have to be current financial aid recipients, Faith said. They can be full-time, part-time, graduate or undergraduate students. According to a university press release, students can submit an Emergency Support Request using the online form in their MyUW Student Center. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and will be offered within one to three business days.

UW-Madison Junior John Allison said he saw the $750 payment in his bank account this week. “I feel like it’s definitely deserved,” he said. “It went out to the people who, according to the federal government, really needed it, and I think that’s great.”

Heading into a new year with extra cash, Allison said he was reminded of last year, his family and the sacrifice he made.

“While I didn’t really contribute any money, I did cancel my on-campus housing last year, so that I could go live with them [my parents] in their place, and that was because, like I said, they had a lot of trouble with employment, and so they wanted to save as much money as they could,” he said.

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