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Tech awards $2M in student virus relief

Thursday, May 28, 2020
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Louisiana Tech University has thus far awarded more than $2 million in CARES Act grants from the federal government to students who experienced economic hardship as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted campus operations, the university announced Wednesday.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, among other things, provided billions of dollars in emergency aid to higher education institutions.

Tech received just under $7.1 million of such aid, according to U.S. Department of Education figures, and must use at least half of it to fund emergency financial aid for students.

As of last week, about 4,500 Tech students had applied for the relief funding, and roughly 3,100 grants had been awarded. A total of roughly $3.5 million of the university’s CARES Act funding has been set aside for student grants, and Tech President Les Guice said financial aid staff are continuing to process applications.

“They are committed to our mission throughout this crisis, which has been to ensure our Tech family is healthy and safe and that our students continue to pursue their academic goals successfully,” Guice said.

Tech will also be able to offer federal grants of at least $200 each to qualified students who enroll in summer courses. Applications for those grants will remain open until June 12.

Disbursement of approved grants will begin the week of June 8.

Like all other public higher education institutions in Louisiana, Tech shut down in-person classes in mid-March and transitioned all courses to fully online formats. Most students living on campus went home. The university is in the early stages of a multi-phase approach to returning its faculty and staff to campus in anticipation of reopening face-to-face classes by the fall.

Individual grant amounts vary for the spring quarter, as some students can request additional funding for high-cost expenses or special circumstances. If a student is eligible for Pell Grants, they will receive additional CARES Act funding as well.

Students may be eligible for CARES Act grants if they have faced some form of financial hardship because of the pandemic that affected their cost of attendance, and they are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The basic criteria for Section 484 eligibility include U.S. citizenship, a valid Social Security number, registration with Selective Service for males, and a high school diploma, GED or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting.

Any student who has filed a FAFSA — Free Application for Federal Student Aid — is eligible under Section 484.

Filing a 2019-20 FAFSA wasn’t required for the spring quarter grants but will be mandatory for the summer grants. Those enrolled exclusively in online programs before the coronavirus outbreak are not eligible for this funding.

“Our faculty and staff have worked diligently to ensure our students would be among the first in the state and nation to receive CARES Act assistance,” said Dickie Crawford, associate vice president for student advancement. “We look forward to seeing the impact that these funds will continue to make for our students, even into the summer quarter.”

Students can visit cares-act to learn more about how to apply.