UW Emergency Pandemic Aid Creates Fairness, May Need More OversightThe Badger Herald
The University of Wisconsin recently started distribution $ 28.6 million in emergency pandemic assistance for students.
The money comes from the third round of the Higher Education Emergency Aid Fund as part of the US bailout Act Congress passed in March, which allocated UW $ 53.4 million in spending money.
UW is required to distribute at least $ 26.7 million directly to students for personal use, but has decided to spend $ 900,000 more than that total on students.
In a press release, UW noted funds would be sent to “students facing the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic”, with $ 7.7 million going directly to more than 6,500 needy students whose financial needs are outlined in free application forms federal student aid. Of these students, more than 4,600 were recipients of Federal Pell Grants.
The remaining $ 19.1 million in the student fund is eligible for all UW students through an emergency form where they can describe their reasons for needing the extra money. This means that the majority of the money is readily available to students, which can be good or bad, depending on the ethics of the student body.
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Let’s not forget how important this money is to the 6,500 struggling students who immediately qualified through their FAFSA status. The COVID-19 pandemic made paying almost impossible rent and increasing medical and living expenses, crippling the economies of the working class. ARPA was in part designed to help college students pay for these costs while attending university.
UW achieves this goal for the 6,500 students who are in desperate need of money. These students have timely access to a few thousand dollars and can use them for anything from tuition to personal costs.
Even in the “all students” bracket, UW helps many students who are not in the high need bracket but still face financial hardship. The middle class tends to publication date short of qualifying for financial aid through FAFSA, despite his inability to cope with almost 25% tuition fees increase over the past ten years, and the opening of this fund is a game-changer.
In this sense, it is also easier for international or undocumented students to access funds quickly, which is rare because FAFSA requires correspondence with the government. Office of Student Financial Aid communications director Karla Weber Wandel said all students who submitted open fund applications received money.
“We were able to provide an emergency grant to every student who applied, ”said Wandel. “Students can choose whether they want these funds applied to their student account balance or whether they want the amount refunded directly to them.
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These payments are a preview of the Universal Basic Income proposals popularized by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. All students benefit from a basic financial safety net, while some less well off receive additional support.
Emergency pandemic aid marks UW’s first major step towards equity that universities often fail to achieve, despite groups like Associated Students of Madison previously call for a broader and more coherent student payment system.
But, the ease of access to this aid also has its drawbacks. The emergency request form only requires students to create a detailed list of their financial needs, followed by a “brief statement explaining your current financial emergency”. There is also a short survey for students to complete, which includes vague statements such as “concerned about covering future expenses.”
As a public school, UW has minimal data on its students who do not need financial aid and do not complete the FAFSA form when applying to the school. This leaves the Office of Student Financial Aid with a simple paragraph to determine whether a student should receive money that a financially desperate student could use to avoid expulsion or pay for essential drugs.
While it is not immediately possible to prove that some students are lying on their emergency request forms to receive money that they do not necessarily need, it is conceivable that these students are potentially using money. that the university might set aside for others with serious financial difficulties.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is a recent example of government money reaching the rich. Small minority-owned businesses had difficulty access the paycheck protection program while large restaurant chains – like Ruth’s Chris or Shake Shack – could easily withdraw money from the fund. The law has also provided far more than the $ 1,200 each American received to millionaires and billionaires through tax breaks.
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Calling for a UW surveillance campaign to determine a student’s true financial situation would only bar some students in this middle class category from receiving the money they need. Instead, a more rigorous verification process for students to receive that money would ensure that the fluffy wording doesn’t open the door for them to receive money that they might not need.
Direct financial aid can be a fair opportunity to support both working class and middle class students with easy access to money. Going forward, UW will need to establish a more reliable way to determine who receives these funds.
Students who are not in the high need bracket should come for in-person interviews and set a spending plan for their funds. Or, students might be required to reveal a partial picture of their financial situation to apply for these funds. These policies would discourage wealthy students who seek to take advantage of the situation from doing so.
In a perfectly moral society, we wouldn’t have to worry about students taking money they don’t need. But, if the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that people have flaws.