UCSF Weighs Emergency Payouts

Sunday, May 24, 2020

UCSF financial services has been left with the task of deciding which students need financial help most urgently as limited funds became available through the CARES Emergency Relief Grant.

Starting May 18, eligible students could expect to receive their portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Emergency Relief Grant. But are the funds enough to help students who’ve been financially burdened by the pandemic?

“This is a big question,” said UCSF Financial Service Director Jerry Lopez, “because there is so much going on right now and it depends on each student’s circumstances.”

Some students who can’t get their usual summer jobs to cover cost of living expenses may find that financial aid can’t cover them during non-enrollment periods, Lopez said.

“There are students that help support their families,” he added, “and their families are losing jobs right now. And although the student may want more help from financial aid, this is outside our realm. For people facing unemployment and for students trying to make it work, we need more money, we need another stimulus check.”

The CARES Act, which was signed into law March 27, 2020, included emergency financial aid funding for institutions of higher education.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, UCSF received $867,955 of which $433,978 is mandated towards emergency financial aid grants for students. UCSF is still deliberating how to use the other half.

The grant funding, according to JD Supra, is determined by a formula that is significantly weighted by the number of full-time students eligible for Pell Grants. It also considers the total enrollment of the school. Since the university’s 2019-2020 population was 3,132 students, that means the $433,978 in aid would amount to $138.56 per student.

Given that this kind of equal distribution among all students is unhelpful, the university has established criteria for determining who is most in need.

To be eligible for this grant, students must be in good academic standing, be enrolled in the spring semester, be FAFSA-eligible and have accrued a minimum of $20,000 in direct loans. To receive the money, students must have a direct deposit account set up through the controller’s office.

Students that meet the criteria should expect to receive $600 each by the end of May. This includes 159 students from the school of medicine, 130 from the school of dentistry, 127 from the school of pharmacy, 80 students from the school of nursing and 56 students from the school of physical therapy.

Students in the school of physical therapy who were unable to graduate this spring received, on average, $3,862 to supplement living expenses so they can finish their course in the summer.

These funds, which are considered grant money, do not need to be repaid and do not affect the student’s financial aid packages subsequently.

Students who believe they should have received this grant but did not, or students whose needs far exceed the grant amount, can submit an appeal for reassessment. According to Mr. Lopez, funds given through appeals come from a finite bucket allocated for dire needs.

With the limited funds available, financial services aims to award as many students as soon as possible.

More information about this grant can be found on the UCSF financial aid website at: https://finaid.ucsf.edu/types-of-aid/faqs