The following message was released from the office of Dr. Matt Thompson, KWU President, on April 29. The message presented here has been edited for length considerations, but the full version can be read at www.kwu.edu/coronavirus.
The bulk of my message today focuses on the CARES Act that was approved by the federal government on March 27, 2020. This major stimulus bill made relief money available to higher education institutions to respond to coronavirus, including Kansas Wesleyan University. Kansas Wesleyan was allocated a total amount of $823,462 by the government. Half of the funds KWU will receive ($411,731) will be dedicated solely to emergency student financial aid grants, as required by the CARES Act. This bill allows the university to use the second half of the funds ($411,731) more broadly for institutional costs associated with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as detailed below, we intend to use the vast majority of the institutional funds for additional student support.
The funds will be used for three main purposes:
1) Emergency aid for Pell-eligible students
2) Emergency support for residential students who are no longer on campus
3) Other institutional expenses associated with our response to the pandemic
First, KWU will distribute to all current, undergraduate, Pell-eligible students an emergency financial aid check for $500 to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare. The decision to prioritize the distribution of aid to Pell-eligible students is based on Department of Education guidance, which states that universities should prioritize students with the greatest need. These checks will be processed in the coming days and will be mailed to your permanent address. Please allow 7-10 days for the checks to arrive.
Second, all current, undergraduate residential students who are no longer residing on campus will receive financial support at a rate of $306 per week times the number of weeks you were not on campus (a minimum of 3 weeks up to a maximum of 8 weeks, which is when the second half of the semester would have regularly restarted after Spring Break). In other words, the amount is equivalent to the full rate of weekly residential (room and board) costs for the weeks you were not on campus. This support can be used by you to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare. We are working quickly to process these funds. However, due to the volume, please allow 10-14 days for the check to arrive to you. (Please note: If you are a residential student still living on campus, you are not eligible for these relief funds, since your housing and food is still being provided. Due to the nature of where we are in the semester, there will not be any relief funds for students who leave housing this week or next.)
Third, remaining funds will be used by the university for institutional expenses like the cost of extra cleaning supplies and support to get courses online for the second half of the semester.
Kansas Wesleyan has decided to make this support available to undergraduate residential students, and undergraduate Pell-eligible students. The requirements of the CARES Act do not allow us to distribute these federal funds to you if you are exclusively an online learner, a graduate student, or if you are not eligible for Title IV aid as determined by completing a FAFSA. However, for non-eligible students, Kansas Wesleyan has separate emergency grant funds, made possible from the generosity of donors and friends of the university, that will cover any room and board refunds for which you are eligible. If you are eligible for a refund but are not a U.S. citizen, then the grant will be applied to your account.
While not required to by the CARES Act, we are pleased that our plan will use more than 95% of the CARES Act funds for student support.