Campus, Coronavirus, News

University to distribute $11.5 million in financial aid to students as part of federal relief fund

stimulus check
Boston University announced Friday it will distribute $11.5 million in federal financial aid to qualifying students. COURTESY OF AZAM KAMOLOV VIA PIXABAY

Boston University announced Friday it will be distributing $11.5 million to students through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which is half of the $23 million allotted to BU by the federal government.

Students who qualify will receive emails with details about their aid package, with amounts of $500, $1,000 or $1,400 awarded depending on financial need — more than 9,000 students qualify for these “technology subsidy” funds to assist with additional costs of remote learning.

Students do not need to apply for the funds — recipients have already been chosen based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The money is going specifically toward students who have expected family contributions of less than $15,000 on their FAFSA.

To qualify, students must be enrolled in a degree program, be registered for the Spring semester and have applied for financial aid this year.

Students who qualify can expect to receive an email from BU Financial Aid this week, as well as a second email from the University and Chase Bank. Students who believe they are eligible can contact BU Financial Assistance if they do not receive an email.

The other half of the $23 million aid package will be used for expenses concerning the pandemic, including costs incurred by the Learn from Anywhere program as well as COVID-19 quarantine and isolation expenses.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said students will be able to use this money to combat the financial difficulties of studying remotely.

“Congress in their wisdom decided … [to] recognize that the pandemic has had impact across the board,” Riley said. “They identified students who were enrolled in college and studying remotely, and additional challenges and costs incurred.”

College of Communication freshman Marshall Brown said the aid will go toward financing his next semester at BU and is especially helpful after purchasing new equipment for online classes..

“It’s going to be a big help, especially because I have had technical issues and I’ve had to buy a couple of extra things for doing class online,” Brown said, “which is a cost that you don’t really think about.”

He said regardless of the financial award he receives, anything would be helpful in paying for tuition.

“Whether it’s $500 or $1,000 or whatever,” Brown said, “anything would be absolutely amazing.”

The federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act that was passed in December provides $23 billion to higher-education institutions through the HEERF — BU is receiving $23 million.

Because the aid is federally funded, international students at BU and other schools benefiting from the act will not qualify for the aid.

COM junior Ariane Vigna, an international student from France, is studying at BU on an F-1 visa. While she cannot qualify for the new federal aid package, she said international students aren’t given as many opportunities to find aid elsewhere during the pandemic either.

“I’ve never qualified for financial aid,” Vigne said, “and I honestly would not know who to turn to if I needed anything.”

She added she would like for more financial opportunities to be available to foreign students because their options are very limited currently.

“I do wish that there were more merit-based scholarships that were accessible to international students,” she said, “because it is a barrier for us not to have any way of getting financial support.”

College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Anna Denfeld said she doesn’t know yet if she qualifies for the grant, but that the money retained by BU could be used to hopefully improve WiFi in South Campus and mental health resources for students.

“Mental health is definitely a very big contender,” Denfeld said, “and with my own experience with BU’s mental health facility, it definitely can put some money towards it and do better.”

President Brown released a statement Friday announcing that the University plans to return to a “more typical campus life,” including in-person learning. Riley said these relief funds will help move the university toward normalcy.

“We’re very fortunate that Congress did this and we’re able to distribute money to people who have incurred unexpected costs,” he said. “We are looking forward to getting back to what will be a more traditional experience this Fall.”


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One Comment

  1. BU should be giving the neediest students far more than $1400 for relief,if it plans to abide by its agreement to abide by the Cares Act in full.
    These funds are from the US government meant to help the neediest of students hurting most during this pandemic. This should concern us all and we should speak up for those students who truly needed this assistance and were handed a pittance of $1400.

    In 2020, the neediest students qualified at BU by demonstrating need specifically and received far more. Now we are supposed to believe BU has gone far and beyond what was expected. Simply by handing more students monies to placate any possible complainants does not fool those of us who know how much some students are hurting. This $1400 should at least be doubled for the neediest of students. This is a true disgrace and without conscience. This article title helps BU shine and seem incredibly generous unless you are one of the families who knows the reason BU distrubuted in this manner this time, avoiding any extra work, creating more happy customers while the neediest of students were betrayed. Something is very wrong here and should be investigated.