The University of the Cumberlands recently received nearly $6 million in emergency coronavirus relief funding, but is redirecting every dollar of the money to its undergraduate student body.
Full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students will receive direct payments of $1,500, with Pell-eligible students receiving an additional $475. Part-time degree-seeking undergraduate students will receive $500, with Pell-eligible students receiving an additional $275. The aid was funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).
Although federal guidelines prohibit public funding from being distributed to international undergraduate students, the university is using private, institutional dollars to provide direct payments to that population. This move ensures that every degree-seeking undergraduate student receives financial support.
A press release from the university stated that while the university could have chosen to with-hold a majority of the funding to cover its own expenses, it opted to give all of the money to students because it knows many are struggling with education and living expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cumberlands President Larry L. Cockrum said in the press release, “Every decision we make is made with that in mind.
During this time of prolonged national emergency, supporting our students is crucial. We care for our students, we want them here, and we want them to be able to focus on their education and extracurricular opportunities.”
The federal government allocated $5,852,797 to the university to provide financial aid grants to students, student support activities, and to cover a variety of institutional costs.
By giving students additional financial support, the university is continuing to fulfill ‘The Cumberlands Commitment’, an initiative launched in 2018 that strives to make college more affordable for students. Other actions taken by the university in support of the initiative include reducing tuition in 2018 by 57 percent and making textbooks free for in-seat undergraduate students in 2019.
The press release stated that Cockrum noted that most college students were not included in the stimulus payments issued in relation to the pandemic.
In May 2020, the university used federal emergency funding to provide in-seat undergraduate students with one-time payments of $500 to $1,000. Dr. Quentin Young, vice president for finance at the Cumberlands, believes giving funding from the latest relief package furthers the university’s commitment to its students’ financial stability.
“Cumberlands has done well in recent years financially because of the students who’ve put their trust in us for a quality education,” Young said. “It’s important, when possible, that we reinvest in our students to help lessen the financial burden they may have and help position them well for life after college.”
Students who were enrolled in undergraduate coursework, either full-time or part-time, by Jan. 20 will automatically have the payment processed, stated the press release.
Checks may be distributed as early as the week of Feb. 1.
This financial distribution is part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), which was funded through the CRRSAA.
The purpose of the funding is to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CRRSAA student grant distribution may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to
Coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, healthcare (including mental health care) or childcare, stated the press release.