The coronavirus outbreak during the spring semester of 2020 has left many colleges and universities scrambling to stay on solid financial footing while at the same time helping their students as much as possible. Online classes have become the norm, but there are many other things colleges and universities are doing to help. Much of the aid is provided through the assistance of the federal government through the CARES Act.
Moving Classes Online
The first step many campuses took when this illness began to spread was to cancel classes. Understanding the need to keep moving forward in their education, the schools worked quickly to get classes moved online. For some, the process was seamless, while for others it was a little bumpy. Overall, administrations have understood that these are exceptional circumstances and have erred on the side of generosity with students.
Leeway in Satisfactory Academic Progress
If a student is unable to make Satisfactory Academic Progress when working toward their degree, they may be unable to continue to qualify for financial aid. SAP uses both grade point average and credit hour completion to determine if a student is working at an acceptable pace toward their degree. Because of the wide range of circumstances and disparity of conditions among each, flexibility in determining whether a student is achieving SAP is permitted at this time. It is always best to approach your professor as soon as you realize you need additional help, but it is understood that the transition to online learning happened quickly and with little warning, and many may have difficulty adjusting.
Funding for Unexpected Expenses
When the semester came to a sudden halt, many scrambled to find accommodations as well as develop a plan to continue their education. Schools have federal funds they can provide that can be used for a wide range of expenses. The guidelines for using these funds are broad, and they can be used for things such as child care, to purchase needed technology, and for housing.
Flexibility with Funds and Requirements
As the country emerges from this pandemic, the economic fallout is uncertain. Schools are working to ensure their students are in the best possible position to secure employment when their education is complete. This includes providing flexibility for required internships and clinical hours. They may also continue to provide payments to students that were part of financial aid, such as work-study money, even if the work is unavailable.
A Pause on Current Federal Loans
If you are currently paying on your student loans, you may have noticed some changes. If the loans are federal, they were probably paused by the end of March. This pause on payments, combined with zero interest rate accrual during the time, provides a little breathing room in your budget. Loan payments are scheduled to resume at the end of September 2020. For individuals in loan rehabilitation or who are hoping to qualify for federal loan forgiveness, this period counts toward positive payment history, so you will not be set back by this period of payment forbearance.