5Cs release third round of pandemic relief funds


The 5Cs have begun releasing a third round of federal aid in response to the pandemic to students who qualified.

The American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed through budget reconciliation and signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, included $39.6 billion in aid to institutions of higher education. At least half of that cash was to be targeted directly toward students.

Enrolled students were previously eligible for grants from the CARES Act, which passed early in the pandemic, and the CRRSAA, another pandemic-related funding bill that Congress passed last December. But unlike those plans, which were passed under former President Donald Trump, the American Rescue Plan expanded eligibility to “any individual who is or was enrolled ... at an eligible institution,” regardless of having filled out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or holding eligibility for Title IV federal aid. The Department of Education also ruled that undocumented students and international students could now be included in aid payments.

Students who received funds were told the money should be spent on “any component of a student’s cost of attendance including tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, personal living expenses, and transportation,” in addition to “emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, healthcare (including mental healthcare) and childcare expenses.”

Pomona College Dean of Students Avis Hinkson said in a community update that students enrolled as of Sept. 13 and receiving need-based financial aid would receive payments of either $1,500 or $2,250, depending on need.

“​​Higher grant funds were directed to students with exceptional financial need,” she said.

The third-round funds are significantly higher than those which were authorized last year, which topped off at $1,004, according to the college’s disclosures.

Unlike Pomona, Claremont McKenna College allotted emergency grants to all students who were eligible under the ARP, a much broader pool. According to the school, 310 students are eligible for Pell Grants while 1,108 aren’t.

Pell-eligible students received $1,579.44, while those ineligible for Pell received a third of that, $526.48.

“Consistent with U.S. Department of Education funding allocation, Pell-eligible students will receive the majority of emergency grant funding,” CMC’s disclosure said.

Scripps College also determined that all students studying on campus or abroad were “potentially eligible” for funding. It allocated students between $150 and $2,150, depending on demonstrated financial need and if students had filed a FAFSA or CSS Profile while enrolled at Scripps.

The $2,150 payments were reserved for Pell recipients and those with the highest need, the college said.

According to federal data, Pitzer College received $1,628,310 under the American Rescue Plan, of which at least $814,156 was to be dedicated to student aid. Harvey Mudd College was allocated $1,309,998, including at least $655,000 for direct student aid. 

Pitzer published a quarterly report on pandemic student aid on Oct. 6 but didn’t report any expenditures. Harvey Mudd has yet to post a third-quarter funding disclosure. The schools didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The three rounds of COVID-19 students relief funds are not considered taxable income, according to the Department of Education, nor should they be considered part of a student’s expected family contribution.

 

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