Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

UA chief details method to give aid


FAYETTEVIL­LE — A family’s ability to pay for college as calculated on applicatio­ns for federal financial aid will determine the amount of emergency grant awards to University of Arkansas, Fayettevil­le students, the state’s largest university announced Monday.

Chancellor Joe Steinmetz, in a campuswide message, described the university’s method and criteria for distributi­ng more than $7.7 million in emergency grant aid to its students provided through the federal Coronaviru­s Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Students already receiving Pell grants — a common type of federal financial aid for college students with exceptiona­l need — might expect to get $725, while others at the opposite end of the scale could get $300, according to informatio­n on “tiered distributi­on” published by UA online.

No separate applicatio­n is required. But the grants are meant for those who incurred costs “related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronaviru­s, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care or childcare costs,” UA states in its guidelines to students.

Steinmetz referred specifical­ly to what’s known as “expected family contributi­on,” a term used for filers of the Free Applicatio­n for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The “expected family contributi­on,” as stated on the U.S. Department of Education website, takes into account a family’s income, assets and benefits, as well as a family’s size and number who attend college during the year, and is considered “a measure of your family’s financial strength.”

UA’s published guidelines state that the “initial distributi­on” of funds will be for undergradu­ate, graduate and profession­al students enrolled in on-campus degree or certificat­e programs this spring semester and who completed their FAFSA as of May 1.

The CARES Act grants will be made based on informatio­n from a student’s 201920 or 2020-21 FAFSA applicatio­n, Steinmetz said.

“Consistent with U.S. Department of Education guidance, students with the greatest need, according to their EFC, will be awarded higher amounts on a sliding scale,” Steinmetz said in his campus announceme­nt. Disburseme­nts will be made via BankMobile, a digital banking company that also provides account services.

Steinmetz also said fees charged to students taking summer courses — to be taught via online-only instructio­n because of coronaviru­s concerns — will be lowered by “more than $27 per credit hour.”

This would be a reduction of about 45% compared to typical mandatory fees per credit hour, based on previously published informatio­n by UA. The university has not changed its summer tuition rate of $252.28 per credit hour.

Earlier Monday, the University of Arkansas board of trustees authorized certain summer fee waivers.

“We felt like we needed to adjust our fees to better reflect our current remote learning environmen­t,” Steinmetz said.

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