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 January 29, 2021.

FAQ

Yes, the recent additional COVID relief (CRRSA Act) as of December 27, 2020, unlocked 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. 

The Department of Education has provided guidance that the original emergency aid funded through the CARES Act as well as this second round of aid cannot be given to DACA/TPS and/or undocumented students (as of NASFAAs guidance on January 15, 2021.

One additional piece of advice we can offer DACA/TPS and/or undocumented students is to contact their college to inquire about any institutional emergency funds which may have different eligibility requirements. Eligibility, process, and availability will differ by college.

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 September 30, 2021. 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. 

 

Similar to the first round 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 stimulus check ($1,200) via the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return. (Not confirmed yet, but might happen for the second $600 payment.)

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 Oct 1, 2022 for the 2023-2024 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