COVID-19 Support Resources

uAspire is working to ensure students, families, and practitioners have accurate and timely information to navigate financial aid and higher education systems during the COVID-19 crisis. We are regularly updating these resources on key questions and procedures regarding financial aid and the impact of COVID-19. This is a changing environment based upon policy and guidance shifts. This information is accurate as of September 17, 2021.

FAQ

Yes, an additional COVID relief bill was passed March 11, 2021, unlocking more funds that colleges can provide directly to students. Students in need should reach out to their college's financial aid office to inquire about emergency aid. Students may need to have a FAFSA on file to receive these funds.

This emergency aid can be used to cover any part of COA, or emergency costs due to COVID-19 such as tuition/fees, food, housing, health care, etc. This emergency aid is also available to students fully enrolled in distance learning. 

For a helpful look at the three different Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, see this chart created by NASFAA.

The Department of Education's guidance on the third round of HEERF funding is that all students enrolled during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for funds. This guidance means undocumented, TPS, and DACA students who were enrolled are eligible for these emergency financial aid grants. Students should reach out to their colleges to determine next steps.

Students should reach out to their colleges to find out how to access these funds. The distribution of emergency aid funds to students will vary per college. In order to receive these funds students may need to fill out an application and/or have a completed FAFSA with their college. Colleges are allowed to use a variety of distribution methods including checks, electronic transfer payments, debit cards, and payment apps, as well as directly applying these funds to the student's college account.

The Biden Administration passed an executive order to extend federal student loan relief for borrowers. As a result, the pause on payments and interest accrual for federal student loans is extended until January 31, 2022. Borrowers are not obligated to make payments on their loans during this time (although they can make payments if they’re able), and their balances will not be subject to interest. Unfortunately, private student loans, FFEL loans owned by commercial lenders, and Perkins Loans owned by the institution are not eligible for this. 

Effective 3/31/21: Interest accumulation and collections are now paused for all defaulted privately held FFEL loans through September 30, 2021. There will also be retroactive provisions back to March 13, 2020, including garnished wages and seized tax funds being returned. Click here for more information. 

 

Similar to the other rounds of stimulus checks, students claimed as dependents do not qualify. Self-supporting students who filed their own taxes in 2019 may be eligible.

Students who didn't file on their own in 2019 and weren't claimed as a dependent, but will file in 2020, will still be able to receive the first two stimulus checks via the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return.

We strongly  encourage students to reach out to tax professionals (ideally free services when applicable) to better understand their eligibility for these funds.

While there are many changes coming to the FAFSA and overall financial aid system, they will impact the FAFSA that becomes available on October 1, 2023 for the 2024-2025 award year. For anyone interested in diving deeper into the details, we recommend you visit this link from NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators).

There have been changes to eligibility requirements’s for college students. Students enrolled at least half-time are eligible as long as they are also eligible for work study OR have a $0 EFC.

 

Resources

For Students and Families

How to Appeal a Financial Aid Offer

Sample Appeal Letter for COVID-19 Related Situations

Appeal Letter Templates (SwiftStudent)

Student Scripts for Calling Colleges for COVID-19 Related Situations

Guide on Taking Time Off from College

For more financial aid resources and tools click here.

For Policymakers

Student-Centered Solutions Needed During COVID-19

uAspire Calls on Congress for Additional COVID-19 Relief for College Students

Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership Letter to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

uAspire Calls on Congress: 12 Ways to Support College Students in Next COVID Relief Package

COVID-19 and the CARES Act

Federal Student Aid webpage dedicated to questions related to COVID-19 and its impact on education

The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) resources for student loan borrowers

National College Attainment Network (NCAN)

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) information on emergency aid