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Federal Relief Funds to Students

Northeastern State University to distribute federal relief funds to students impacted by COVID-19

NSU Tahlequah Campus Fountain

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) — Northeastern State University will distribute the latest round of COVID-19 relief funds the institution received from the federal government to directly aid students who qualify this summer.

The institution received around $9.1 million in federal money to provide financial aid to eligible students that express interest in taking advantage of the relief funding being made available as part of the third round of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) distributed to postsecondary institutions across the country.

The deadline for eligible students to reply to university communications about the availability of HEERF dollars is July 19.

Following eligibility guidelines as outlined by the U.S. Department of Education, NSU officials have identified those students currently enrolled in summer courses that meet the criteria to receive federal funds and developed a plan to pass along funds to those students. NSU Vice President of Administration & Finance Christy Landsaw said eligible students will receive multiple notifications via email about their eligibility and would be prompted on whether they would like to receive the relief fund being made available by the federal government. Those that opt-in to getting this relief will have the option of receiving a direct payment or applying it to their bursar accounts to cover college-related expenses.

University officials also plan to notify eligible students through letters sent to their permanent address on file and a text message. Landsaw said altogether the university plans to send seven emails, one text and one letter to eligible NSU students. 

Once students respond, they should receive a confirmation message. Eligible students that choose to participate could see funds posted to their account by July 22.

NSU Vice President for University Relations Dan Mabery said officials estimate that between 10 to 13% of the total amount received as part of the third round of HEERF money for students would be distributed this summer. He added the plan is to come up with a similar distribution plan for the fall semester. Funds distributed this fall are also designed to assist students with financial hardships which may include loss of income, child care expenses and technology to support educational endeavors, due to the pandemic.

On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to provide federal relief to members of the American public negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One result of adopting that law was the creation of HEERF which provides relief funding to postsecondary institutions negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CARES Act, a portion of HEERF money received by institutions must be used to provide direct financial assistance to its students.

Since the law’s adoption, NSU has received and distributed HEERF money to eligible students. NSU received and distributed around $2.8 million to 3,754 students during the first round of HEERF last fall. The institution received and distributed another $2.8 million as part of the second round in the spring. Awards were made to 4,465 students.

Landsaw said the department of education's guidance instructs the university to distribute these funds based on need and outlines what qualifies as such. She said with each round of distribution response rates from eligible students have improved, stating the university encourages every eligible student to consider opting to receive the relief aid if they were negatively affected by the pandemic.

To learn more about NSU's distribution of HEERF dollars to aid students visit https://offices.nsuok.edu/studentaffairs/Coronavirus/.