UC Berkeley students receive emergency aid as part of federal coronavirus relief bill

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Many UC Berkeley students received $500 this week, as campus was given $30.4 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

UC Berkeley received the funding as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, or HEERF, established by the CARES Act. The CARES Act is a $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27 to provide relief to individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the money UC Berkeley received, $15.2 million was earmarked for direct student support.

“Colleges and universities throughout the country received emergency funding from the CARES Act to stabilize their budgets and support their students,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar in an email. “Roughly $14B was allocated to higher education institutions based on a formula that accounted for total enrollment and total Pell Grant eligible students.”

Emergency grants are given to students based on their financial needs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, which, according to the Association of American Universities, provides support for “less-advantaged students.” The campus is using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine Title IV eligibility, according to the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships website.

According to the website, undergraduate students are eligible for relief funding if they are actively enrolled Title IV-eligible FAFSA filers as of May 1 and have not already received emergency funding or a cash housing refund greater than $1,000.

The website adds that students who qualify under the California Dream Act will be evaluated using the same criteria and will receive equivalent funding from the campus Student Emergency Fund. According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, UC Berkeley has awarded more than $300,000 to Dream Act students as of May 5.

According to the Financial Aid and Scholarships website, students who qualify for relief funding receive amounts based on expected family contribution, or EFC. Students who have no EFC will be gifted $1,300, and students who have EFCs of more than $10,000 will be gifted $500.

The website adds that graduate students are eligible for HEERF funding based on Title IV eligibility. Graduate student relief will be disbursed in the last week of May. According to the website, this emergency funding will be distributed in the form of grants, not loans.

“We are committed to supporting our students with financial resources during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Ratliff said in an email. “We know that the COVID-19 crisis has brought immense disruption to our campus and to the lives of our students.”

Contact Nat Gott at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natgott_dc.