This story originally appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune.
Temple University has disbursed nearly $40 million in COVID-19 relief assistance to students.
Through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III, Temple has been allocated $39,204,052 to use toward grants for students who have demonstrated financial need and have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the third federal COVID-19 stimulus bill signed into law to include funding for high education institutions and students using HEERF, which was established in the Coronavirus AID, Relief and Economic Security Act in 2020.
HEERF III was also included in the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is unfortunately not yet behind us, and families and students continue to be impacted by this unprecedented event,” Temple University senior adviser for Government Affairs George Kenney said in a statement.
“Every step we can take no matter how small helps, which is why this HEERF funding is vital,” he added. “It can be the difference between students receiving their diploma on time or needing to take a break from college.”
Approximately $26.5 million of the funding was disbursed as $3,500 grants to all Federal Pell Grant eligible undergraduate students registered for the fall semester.
About 7,600 students from Temple’s undergraduate population have received a Pell Grant including 1,368 first-year students.
The Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree.
“This is now our third round of grant funding and it’s enabling us to help more students with a little relief than we ever imagined,” said Shawn Abbott, Temple University’s vice provost for admissions, financial aid and enrollment management
“With HEERF III, we’ve been able to help the largest number of students yet which is truly extraordinary,” he added.
Temple will also hand out an additional $11 million to $12 million of the HEERF III funding to approximately 10,500 undergraduate, graduate or professional degrees students enrolled in the fall semester. Each student will receive a grant for $1,000.
The university contacted eligible students via email and asked them to fill out a survey that details how they have been affected by the pandemic.
“If students had direct deposit the money went directly into their direct deposit,” Abbott said. “If they didn’t have a direct deposit then students were sent a check.
“Students can use the funding however they want,” he added. “We certainly encourage them to use it toward their cost of attendance, meals and living expenses, but the funding is really meant to be a collegiate version of the stimulus funding.”
The grants from Temple are just the latest phase of COVID-19 relief assistance for students from HEERF.
This summer, Temple handed out $280,000 in the form of $1,000 to $3,000 grants to 142 students. The university has also disbursed nearly $1.1 million to 227 students in grants up to $5,000.
During the spring, $14.7 million was disbursed to 16,201 students who were enrolled for the spring 2021 semester. In 2020, the university distributed more than $14.7 million directly to students.
“We dispersed the financial assistance from HEERF in three different waves,” Abbott said. “The first round was for students who had outstanding balances.
“The second round was for students who were in the most financial need and the most recent round we awarded students with an additional $1,000 grant,” he added.
Abbott said the federal relief will definitely help students who are in the greatest need.
“This pandemic has impacted students beyond their struggle to afford tuition,” he said. “We’ve learned that students lost jobs. We’ve learned that students have struggled affording even their most basic needs from internet service to gas money.
“This federal relief was the difference between a student who was severely impacted by the pandemic and remaining in college or leaving college,” Abbott added. “We appreciate the support from the federal relief and we’re grateful to pass it on to our students in the greatest need.”
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