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WVU receives $20.2M, money to help students impacted by pandemic

West Virginia University’s Board of Governors said Friday afternoon that it has received $20.2 million in coronavirus stimulus money for students impacted by the pandemic.

The announcement was made by Rob Alsop, the university’s vice president of strategic initiatives, following a two-hour, remote executive session.

“We will try and get it out as quickly as possible,” Alsop said.

The money will be received in two installments of roughly $10 million each.

The money that WVU will receive is from the CARES Act — Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — enacted in March. By law, that money must assist students who have lost jobs, gotten COVID-19, or need to buy new technology because of classes being moved online.

As a result of the funding, WVU is establishing a program that will disburse direct cash grants to students based on Department of Education guidance. Students who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply:

  • Reduction on personal or family income due to job loss, reduced work hours, or temporary furlough from work.
  • Additional and unexpected costs related to the transition to online learning for the remainder of the semester.
  • Increased medical expenses. This includes additional support needed for accessibility purposes.
  • Travel or moving expenses to return home due to the transition to online learning for the remainder of the semester.

The federal government has given colleges latitude in deciding which students will receive funds, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. In a letter to colleges, Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, wrote that she wanted “to encourage the leadership of each institution to prioritize your students with the greatest need,” The Chronicle said.

WVU said students who have received a reduction in spring charges for dorm rooms, dining plan or University Apartments’ April rent are not eligible for additional financial assistance. This will be re-evaluated, however, because of initial requests for emergency assistance, the university said.

Students may begin applying for the CARES funding Tuesday. Because of limited financial resources and the volume of need, not all applications may be approved, the university said.

WVU said the second $10 million installment is expected later this spring. It must be used to cover any costs associated with changes to delivery of instruction because of the coronavirus and is awaiting additional instruction from the government.

Separately, WVU waived the Online Learning Student Support fee for students enrolled in the 2020 online summer courses. The fee is $25 for each credit, or $75 for a three-credit course. Students who have already paid this fee will be reimbursed.

WVU suspended in-person classes March 23 for the spring semester and went to on-line learning. Summer in-person classes were canceled early this month for the university system wide. In addition, a virtual commencement for seniors graduating in May will be held May 16.

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