West Virginia University began disbursing funding to students through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II as authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act this week.
Some students took to Facebook to express confusion or engage in speculation regarding an email sent out to students about additional refunds, which came weeks after the initial spring 2021 semester refund period.
A few students suggested the refund might have been sent out to students whose classes will be conducted in an online-only format this semester.
Other students said the refund could be additional funding from emergency grants.
According to information published by WVU on its Return to Campus webpage, students on both sides of the debate were right.
On the “Cost and Aid” section of the webpage, the university indicated it would be distributing approximately $10 million in emergency grants to eligible students.
According to WVU, eligible students include those who are attending school at any WVU campus at least half-time, have a 2020-21 FAFSA on file with WVU by Feb. 5, and have no unsatisfied requirements for aid.
Students who meet those requirements are automatically considered to receive a spring 2021 CRRSAA Emergency Grant.
WVU’s page also said spring 2021 Federal Pell Grant recipients will receive “priority consideration” and could receive up to $1,000 for the spring 2021 semester. This is in addition to a $440 reduction for students whose spring classes are completely online.
WVU also created an FAQ page for those with questions regarding the COVID-19 federal grants, where the university addressed the eligibility of graduate, international and WVU Online students for the emergency grant.
“Graduate and professional students will be considered if funding allows after priority consideration is given to spring 2021 Pell Grant recipients,” WVU said.
WVU said while previous CARES Act emergency grants did not consider WVU online students, those students will be considered for this emergency grant as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements outlined.
That is not the case, however, for many international students attending WVU.
“Unfortunately, due to restrictions by the U.S. Department of Education, we are unable to consider most international students for this aid. Students must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen,” WVU said.
Sandra Oerly-Bennett, assistant vice president of Student Financial Support and Services at WVU, said WVU did not have a say in which students were considered first for the emergency grant.
“It is a federal guideline that Pell Grant recipients be given priority consideration for the emergency grant funding,” Oerly-Bennett said.
View WVU’s Emergency COVID-19 Federal Grant FAQs page here: https://www.wvu.edu/return-to-campus/common-questions/emergency-grants.