UAFS CARES Act Response

 

Recently, the Federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide support for businesses and people. Higher education institutions were included in the Act, and the U.S. Department of Education was given the arduous task of determining a process for dividing the funds and providing guidance to colleges and universities. Through the Act, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith was allocated a total of $5,511,303. 
The act mandated that $2,755,651.50 of that money was to be provided directly to qualifying students under regulations provided to us by the Department of Education.
 
Chancellor Terisa Riley, however, elected to add an additional $1,135,000 toward direct-to-student aid. 
 
Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding how UAFS students can obtain their CARES act funding. For most students, this aid will be direct deposited into your bank accounts around May 15, however, please double check this FAQ to be sure there is not more needed to claim your funds. 
 
The university has also created a Resource Guide for adapting to online course delivery through the summer, navigating aid processes during the COVID-19 crisis, and to help meet your academic, health and wellness, digital engagement, technology, and financial needs. 
If you find yourself still needing help, that guide will direct you to the right place.
 
 

Who qualifies for CARES funds? 

The eligibility requirements listed below match those that the Department of Education created for this program and shared with higher education institutions on April 21, 2020. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/heerfstudentfaqs.pdf
·          Must have FAFSA on file (or be eligible to file a FAFSA in the 2019-2020 academic year*) 

·          Must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) as defined in the UAFS SAP Policy

·          Must not have been enrolled in an exclusively online program on March 13, 2020 

·          Not a concurrent or WATC (Western Arkansas Technical Center) student 

·          Not a transient student 

·          Not a 60+ waiver recipient 

·          Not an international or non-citizen student  

 

How much money will I receive? 

The amount received will vary depending on several factors. The Department of Education asked us to prioritize students who already demonstrated financial need through Pell Grant eligibility and awards and the students who were most disrupted, such as those living on campus or graduating in May 2020 due to the change in campus operations as a result of COVID-19. 

We created this formula, which has been shared with the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas System, to distribute the funds: 

  • Students who lived on campus as of March 13, 2020: $1,000 
  • Students who received Pell Grants in spring 2020: $500 
  • Students who are eligible for CARES funds: $400 
  • Graduating seniors: $100 

 

CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions:

What are some examples of how much funding I might receive? 

Example 1: I am eligible for the grant, and I am a graduating senior, living on campus, and I received a Pell Grant. Award amount: $2,000 

Example 2: I am eligible for the grant, graduating in May 2020, and did not live on campus or receive the Pell grant in spring 2020. Award: $500 

Example 3: I think I am eligible, did not fill out the FAFSA, not graduating in May 2020, and I lived on campus. Award amount, if eligible: $1,400 

Example 4: On March 13 all of my classes were online (not face-to-face or hybrid with some face-to-face delivery), but I did complete a FAFSA and received a Pell Grant. Award: $0, not qualified because classes were already fully-online only 

How will I get the money? 

Students who have direct deposit (ACH) on file with UAFS will receive deposits directly into their bank accounts. Students who do not have direct deposit information on file with us will receive a paper check mailed to their current mailing address on file in Banner. To add a direct deposit to your account, please access the following.
  • Log into my.uafs.educlick Students tab
  • Click Student Services (A+)
  • Click Make a Payment Now (green circle), sign into Portal Login if requested
  • Click Refunds, click Set Up Account
  • Enter your Account/Billing Information, click Continue
  • Verify your information, click I Agree, click Continue

Direct deposit information must be entered by May 10, 2020 to be used for depositing the funds.

Do I need to complete an application to qualify for or receive the funds?

No, UAFS will automatically calculate the amount of funds you should receive and either make a direct deposit or send the check to your current address listed in Banner.
 

I owe the university money. May I use the emergency funds to pay my past due balance? 

Yes.  Once you receive the funds through direct deposit or as a check, you are encouraged to pay your past due balance to the university so that you do not encounter a registration or transcript hold in the future. UAFS is not authorized to directly apply CARES Act funds toward any outstanding balances that may still be owed by a student. 

When will I get the money? 

Although we have not yet received the funds from the federal government, we plan to begin disbursing funds to students at the next week (around May 15).  Banks vary in the amount of time between disbursement and showing funds available in your account, so please check with your bank.  Of course, paper checks will be written and mailed to your current mailing address, so please ensure that your address is correct and allow additional time for mail delivery.

What if my expenses due to the disruption to campus operation are more than the amount I believe I will receive? 

If you have incurred additional expenses beyond the amount you automatically receive, and those expenses can be directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to the Coronavirus, you may apply for additional funding. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funds are available AND as long as there is evidence directly relating the expense to the “disruption of campus operations due to the Coronavirus.” Please contact Dr. Dave Stevens, Dean of Students, for assistance with completing the application. He can be reached at dave.stevens@uafs.edu.  
Example 1: I am qualified to receive $400, but I had to purchase a laptop with additional memory and processing because I am a graphic design major and the computer cost $1,500 and I have a receipt. Award: Up to $1,100. 

Example 2: I lost my job at the mall in Fort Smith due to Coronavirus and need to pay rent. Award: $0 because the loss of an off-campus job is not a result of the “disruption of campus operations.” 
 

What is the University’s policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress?

I did not live on campus on March 13, but I purchased a plan which I did not get to use.  Do I qualify for the $1,000 given to students who lived on campus?

No, but you may want to submit evidence that shows unused meals/money on your commuter meal plan through the CARES Act Student Emergency Aid form which will be available on NumaLink beginning on May 11, 2020.  The committee reviewing these applications for additional funds due to the disruption of campus may elect to award funds for this purpose assuming funds are available.
 

I did not complete a FAFSA, but I still meet all of the other eligibility requirements, so can I receive CARES Act student emergency funds? 

Yes! If you believe you qualify but did not complete a FAFSA for the 2019-20 year, please contact Dr. Dave Stevens who will guide you through an application process to determine your eligibility to receive funds. Dr. Stevens can be reached at Dave.stevens@uafs.edu  
 

Who should I contact if I still have questions?

If you have questions after reviewing the information in this message, please feel free to contact Dr. Lee Krehbiel, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, at lee.krehbiel@uafs.edu or Dr. Dave Stevens at dave.stevens@uafs.edu.