$15.2 Million in Federal Emergency Funding Available to Students in Need This Fall

Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications

University of Virginia students in need will receive $15.2 million in federal emergency funding during the 2021-22 academic year, available through the American Rescue Plan.

The funds, which are intended to relieve financial hardship associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, represent the third round of emergency federal funding disbursed during the pandemic. Last year, UVA distributed more than $12.4 million in emergency federal funding directly to students.  

As required by the federal plan, most of the funds will go to students with the greatest financial need, including any undergraduate student whose financial need meets the guidelines for federal Pell Grants. Pell Grant recipients typically come from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually.

Those students will receive an American Rescue Plan emergency grant of $1,000 in each semester of the 2021-22 academic year. Consistent with the rules established by the American Rescue Plan, students do not need to be eligible to participate in federal student aid programs to receive the emergency grants, which means that students can receive emergency funds regardless of immigration status. Students may use the funds to continue in their studies, manage expenses associated with living and studying in Charlottesville and participate fully in academic and co-curricular opportunities at UVA.

The grants will go directly to the students and will be in addition to any financial aid they may receive. In addition to distributing ARP funding, UVA will continue to meet the full demonstrated need of every undergraduate student who qualifies for aid – one of only two public universities in the country to do so.

UVA Student Council President Abel Liu said the grants will “offer eligible students some peace of mind and the opportunity to focus on taking full advantage of their time at UVA.”

“One thousand dollars is a lot of money, and students can use these block grants for rent, food, medication or any other purpose that would otherwise represent an unmet essential student need,” Liu said.

The University developed the distribution plan for the $15.2 million in emergency aid in consultation with student leaders. A student-led campaign, #COVIDActionNow, advocated for student aid during the pandemic, including grants, insurance aid and other support.

“We are grateful to our students for the counsel that they shared,” Vice Provost for Enrollment Stephen Farmer said. “We hope this funding will help students stay enrolled and make the most of their time on Grounds.” 

To demonstrate eligibility, students must complete either the Free Application for Federal Aid (or FAFSA) or the CSS Profile, the latter of which may be submitted without private information such as Social Security numbers. Eligible students will receive the emergency grants at the end of the second week of classes in each semester. 

Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for direct deposit to avoid delays in receiving any grants for which they qualify. Detailed guidance about how enrolled students may establish eligibility for American Rescue Plan funding and apply for emergency funds, as well as updates about when and how grants will be distributed, is available here.

Health Insurance Funding

Students who are eligible for the American Rescue Plan emergency grants may also receive additional federal funding to pay for health insurance, provided that they verify their need for insurance. That funding will be distributed in late October in order to pay health insurance charges due at that time. 

Liu said he is particularly excited about helping students cover insurance costs.

“In a normal year, uninsured students and students on out-of-state Medicaid insurance would have to take out about a $3,000 loan for Aetna insurance. Over the course of four years, these insurance loans total to more than $12,000, which is an extraordinary burden,” said Liu, noting that he hopes student and University leaders can come up with a longer-term solution in the future. “ARP funding distributions for insurance grants will be an immediate-term solution to a systemic issue, offering dozens of students substantial relief.”

Other Emergency Funding

Students who do not qualify for the American Rescue Plan’s emergency grants, but who have emergency needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, can complete a separate application for emergency federal funding. That application will be available on the Student Financial Services site no later than the start of classes on Aug. 24.

Federal funds available through this process are limited, but will be awarded until funding is no longer available.

Students may also reach out to Student Financial Services about emergency loans for needs that arise during the school year, or request reconsideration of their financial aid eligibility if their financial circumstances changed substantially after 2019, the tax year that determined eligibility for the 2021-22 academic year.

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