Some Claremont Colleges start process of sending federal coronavirus aid to students

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one way to prove eligibility for the coronavirus emergency grant funding that the federal government has allocated to colleges nationwide. (Courtesy: Claremont McKenna College Office of Admissions)

If you’re a student at Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College or Keck Graduate Institute, keep an eye on your mailbox — you may be receiving a check for a few hundred dollars soon. 

These 7Cs have received a portion of their coronavirus aid from the federal government and are in the process of sending grants of varying amounts out to eligible students. The funds were secured through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was signed into law March 27 and subsequently used to allocate more than $4 million to the Claremont Colleges. 

But students at Pomona College, Pitzer College and Claremont Graduate University will have to wait a bit longer to learn how their school’s CARES Act funding will be distributed. The colleges have not yet announced how or when they will award the funding. 

So far, Scripps, Mudd, CMC and KGI have received the portion of their coronavirus aid earmarked for students — $273,042, $258,166, $427,790 and $94,558.50, respectively.

The money — half of their total allotment — must go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants to be used for food, housing, course materials, health care and/or childcare, according to the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. These funds were released first; the rest of the aid, which is available for institutional use, will follow at a later date.

DeVos gave schools “significant discretion” on how to distribute the funds, and as a result, the 4Cs developed different processes, criteria and grant amounts for their students. 

Scripps issued checks ranging from $150 to $600 to 988 eligible students Monday, according to the school’s website. The grant amounts were based on students’ income documentation from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), President Lara Tiedens announced Friday.

To be eligible for the grants, students had to meet certain requirements, including having U.S. citizenship or being an eligible noncitizen, having a valid Social Security number and having a high school diploma or GED certificate among other things, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Completion of or eligibility to complete the FAFSA was one of the ways to demonstrate eligibility.

The requirements disqualified undocumented, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or international students from being able to receive the grants.

However, Scripps will also distribute equivalent grants from their own budget to DACA and international students based on need, Tiedens said.

Mudd’s grants range from $300 to $750, with more money going to students who demonstrate greater financial need, vice president for admission and financial aid Thyra Briggs said in an email to students eligible for the funding. 

Eligible students — those who completed the 2019-2020 FAFSA — were required to fill out a Google form with their mailing address by last Thursday with the hopes of sending out the checks this past Monday, the email said. It’s unclear whether the checks have been sent out.

Mudd spokesperson Judy Augsburger did not respond to requests asking whether the school would provide separate institutional grants to ineligible students.

CMC will distribute its aid to all students who fill out the FAFSA by May 25, according to a statement from the school. Those who previously did so are already eligible, and those who haven’t yet will be emailed instructions on how to complete the form.

Students who are eligible for Pell Grants will receive the majority of the funding, the statement said. Ineligible students will receive an amount equivalent to one third of the Pell-eligible amount.

The grants will be mailed to students’ permanent addresses by June 8, according to the statement. CMC will send separate funds to students on financial aid who don’t qualify for the CARES Act money.

KGI is requiring students to opt-in to receive the grant and confirm their eligibility, which is defined as being enrolled in at least one face-to-face class in the spring 2020 semester and eligible for financial aid, according to its website and spokesperson Ivan Alber. 

The amount of money students will receive is based on the number of opt-ins, the site says. The funds will be separated into two pools — one for eligible full-time students and another for eligible part-time students, Alber told TSL via email. The money will then be divided equally among students in each pool with full-time students receiving more than part-time students.

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Checks are expected to be processed by May 31, according to KGI’s website.

Students who are ineligible for CARES Act funding have also been given the opportunity to apply for financial support, Alber said.

Pomona College is still finalizing paperwork to receive its $642,822 for emergency student grants and expects to complete the process in the coming weeks, according to its website

All students who completed the FAFSA will receive CARES Act funding, the site says. Students who are eligible for the FAFSA but have not filled it out can receive funding if they submit one.

Pomona will also provide emergency grants to students who are ineligible for the CARES Act but receive financial aid from the school, according to the site.

Pitzer has not yet received its $312,930.50 in CARES Act funding for students but expects to soon, Pitzer spokesperson Anna Chang told TSL via email. The school is still evaluating how to distribute the funds among students. Those most financially impacted by the pandemic will be prioritized.

Chang did not answer the question of whether Pitzer will provide emergency grants using their own funds to students ineligible for the CARES Act funding.

Claremont Graduate University did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding their status with coronavirus aid from the federal government. 

7C students who qualify for the aid are appreciative of the emergency grants.

Selena Lopez PO ’22 said she was “quite excited” when she found out about the funding, as rent is a big concern for her family.

“The grant to us will mean that we get to worry and stress just a little less each day,” she said via email. “My mother and I are both currently servers in the restaurant industry, so the pay is definitely not the best and barely make[s] enough to cover groceries and other essential items.”

Sam Baker SC ’21, who is on a scholarship, is likewise looking forward to getting her check in the mail.

“It’s disappointing that college students got skipped over with the stimulus checks, especially since a lot of us got hit with extra expenses from having to relocate on such short notice,” she said via message. “But anything helps, and I’ll be grateful for whatever I get.”

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