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.