The Associated Students of Madison Student Council moved to pass the third round of HEERF funding as well as funding for Federal Perkins Loan Program qualifiers.
ASM endorsed a statement encouraging students to utilize American Rescue Plan HEERF III funds in order to advance the council’s efforts to help students struggling financially amid the pandemic.
According to the statement, the HEERF III fund requires 50% of an institution’s funds to be spent on student grants, providing aid for those in financial need due to pandemic-related costs. This includes monetary help with tuition, housing, food, health care and child care.
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In a discussion about the statement, ASM Diverse Engagement Coordinator Crystal Zhao said the first two rounds of HEERF were proven to be not enough.
“Only 21% of the student body received [HEERF I and II] funding, even though more than 70% of students demonstrated food insecurity in the fall 2020 survey,” Zhao said.
According to ASM’s preliminary statement, HEERF I and II failed to give aid to every student in need as its application process is exclusive to non-citizens. Most international students, DACA recipients and undocumented students were unable to receive financial help due to complications arising from their citizenship status, according to the statement.
The council held that HEERF III furthers the University of Wisconsin’s efforts to supply aid to those who need it without the exclusionary measures HEERF I and II possess. HEERF III will have the exact same requirements of the first two rounds of HEERF funding — however, its application process will be open to non-citizens, according to the statement.
Zhao said the statement will be an important resource for students and administration.
“[ASM] wanted to use this statement prior to the release of the funding to make sure students have information to apply for the funds as well as having a common ground with the administration about how we can use it,” Zhao said.
The Office of Financial Aid will not disclose the amount of money they have received in private donations, so the amount of funding able to be given is unsure, Zhao said. Due to this uncertainty, Zhao said the statement ASM released is preliminary and subject to change if necessary.
ASM coordinators and representatives also discussed COVID-19 relief for Perkins borrowers and qualifiers for the Federal Perkins Loan Program.
Representatives Chris Unterberger and Kylan Bartel presented legislation demanding UW administrators of student financial aid provide relief to Perkins borrowers in light of funding complications within the current program due to the pandemic.
ASM Coordinator Brooke Evans said she emailed the Office of Financial Student Aid to meet with ASM representatives, Perkins borrowers and the BIPOC Coalition about this matter. Evans said the OFSA never responded to the email regarding the meeting request.
The HEERF III funding preliminary statement and the legislation regarding relief to Perkins borrowers both unanimously passed.
ASM will meet again on April 20 in its last scheduled meeting of the semester.