Campus Beat Reporter
According to the United States Department of Education’s website, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) will receive approximately $38 million in their upcoming stimulus check. This stimulus check comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act) signed on Dec. 27, 2020.
The CRRSA Act designated a total of $21.2 billion in COVID-19 relief funds towards colleges and universities this year. This stimulus package will incentivize students to continue their educational endeavors through the current pandemic.
The fund authorized by this act is known as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), and it follows the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that the U.S. Department of Education passed last March.
This new stimulus check under the HEERF II fund directs even more money towards higher education institutions than the previous bill, granting colleges and universities $21.2 billion as opposed to the $14 billion received in the CARES Act.
The most notable distinctions between the CARES Act and the CRRSA Act are who qualifies for HEERF II grants, the procedures to apply, and which university enterprises will receive the grants. In the CARES Act, for instance, only certain institutions of higher education defined vaguely as extension programs and continuing education, qualified for grant money. In the CRRSA Act, those institutions of higher education that fall specifically under public, private nonprofit, or proprietary designations qualify for the grant money,
Public institutions will receive about 97 percent of the stimulus check funds, whereas private schools will receive the remainder. While public institutions, including UCSB, have been given flexibility in how they choose to distribute their stimulus checks, private colleges must devote their stimulus funds exclusively towards student financial aid.
Last year, UCSB sent CARES Grant funds, ranging from $650 to $1,700, to eligible students. Students this year are anticipating a raise in their grant amounts in conjunction with the raise of money allocated to higher education institutions in the new stimulus bill.
The Office of Financial Aid confirmed that UCSB will divert part of the funding directly towards student aid, but the range of grant amounts that students may receive remains unknown.
“In regards to the additional funding, we are excited and relieved to know that additional resources are on their way,” clarified the Office of Financial Aid in an interview with The Bottom Line. “We’ll work diligently to get funding out to eligible students once it becomes available. Our website will be updated once additional information is provided to us by the Department of Education.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s website explains its criteria for each university’s monetary allocation. The $38 million that UCSB will receive this winter comes from a formula based on the “relative share of Federal Pell Grant recipients, the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Federal Pell and non-Pell Grant recipients exclusively enrolled in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency.”
Though little information on the relief money has been released to UCSB students and faculty, some schools in California have received further details on their stimulus packages. Two weeks ago, the UC Riverside (UCR) Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox sent an email to the student body about the stimulus package for the 2021 school year.
“UC Riverside is projected to receive approximately $45.4 million in one-time funding with a minimum of $14.8 million of these funds earmarked for student financial aid, via the most recent CARES Act signed into law in December,” explained Wilcox in the email.
UCSB received $25.2 million last year while $12.6 million went to financial aid, so students may anticipate a similar increase as UCR.
The Office of Financial Aid intends to publish all information regarding the stimulus check on their website once they receive the funds. In the meantime, they advise students to file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms and periodically check for any updates in the following few weeks.