Student in front of lair

A student walks in front of the Mountainlair on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Jan. 14 that an additional $21.2 billion is available to higher education students and will continue to be distributed to eligible students for the spring 2021 semester to combat financial difficulties following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant funding was approved by the federal government to provide students emergency funding from COVID-19 with the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), which was authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

After the first phase of grants were distributed to recipients of the spring 2021 Federal Pell Grant, more emergency grants will be given to more students with financial need who weren’t eligible for the Pell Grant that already have a FAFSA on file by Feb. 5.

The amount recipients will receive is based on their 2020-21 FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Students with an EFC of $0-$10,00 may receive $750 and students with an EFC of $10,001-$20,000 may receive $500.

Graduate and professional students who meet the criteria will be considered in this phase of grant distribution.

At this time, those with an EFC of $20,001 or greater and international students will not be considered for the emergency grant. Also, those who didn’t have a 2020-21 FAFSA on file with the University by Feb. 5 will not be considered for the CRRSAA Emergency Grant.

Students that want to be considered for this grant should ensure that they are eligible by making sure they do not have unsatisfied requirements for aid.

The grant will be issued, however, student accounts are set up to receive refunds, whether that be direct deposit or to their student account.

Students who have been drastically impacted financially may submit a Family Contribution Appeal if the information on the student FAFSA no longer accurately reflects the student's and/or their family’s financial situation. This appeal must be submitted by March 8 by 4:45 pm to be considered for grant eligibility.

If a student’s EFC is zero, they’ve already been offered the maximum amount of aid they’re eligible for. They could, however, be considered for the emergency funding. If their EFC is greater than zero, there is information posted on WVU’s Financial Aid website under the Family Contribution Appeal tab that can provide them more information to see if they are eligible for a Family Contribution Appeal.

The Mountaineer Hub staff is available to assist students and families with any questions they might have regarding their cost and aid options.

Generally, students may be eligible for the appeal if their family faced a loss of income due to unemployment, pay reduction, death of a parent or spouse, reduction or loss of child support and more.

Ashton Kudlak, a junior public relations and advertising student, said that COVID-19 has affected her family’s financial situation from employment to pay cuts.

“If I am [eligible for the emergency funding], that would help out immensely because I’m currently struggling with student loans… and my parents don’t even know if they can take out a loan for me,” Kudlack said.

Since this emergency relief is a grant, students are not expected to pay back the amount they received. Students are expected to use this funding towards any school expenses, unexpected expenses they may have and unmet financial needs.

WVU will notify students and families if there are any changes to the information released by the U.S. Department of Education. More information on cost and aid through the emergency fund can be found at the University’s Return to Campus webpage.