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November 27, 2020
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MSU to expedite distribution of CARES Act funds to students

Mississippi State University will use the $8.9 million it receives as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to directly assist eligible students who are facing financial challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress enacted and President Donald Trump signed into law the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27 to provide economic relief for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act authorized the U.S. Department of Education to provide funding for universities and colleges to award in the form of emergency financial aid grants to eligible students.

“Our Division of Finance and Administration and the MSU Financial Aid Office, working in conjunction with compliance and implementation guidance from federal and state government officials, have positioned MSU where we can make these Student Emergency Financial Aid Grants available to many of our students immediately,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “We want to provide this assistance to our students and their families as quickly as possible and I’m proud of our staff for expediting this process.”

Keenum said it was important to balance compliance accountability with urgency and compassion in facilitating the distribution of the grant funds to students.

“Even for the small percentage of our eligible students who still have some eligibility paperwork to complete, we have devised an online application portal that greatly expedites the process. I’m extremely grateful to our congressional delegation for their strong leadership in providing this vital support for our students, who like the rest of us were harmed financially by the COVID-19 crisis that interrupted their semesters,” Keenum said.

Not all MSU students are eligible for the CARES Act funds under federal law. MSU will contact students who may be eligible.

MSU will require students to complete a two-step process to help determine their qualifications for CARES Act funding. The first step is to complete a simple MSU application. The second step, for those students who have not yet done so, is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to verify their eligibility for Title IV aid.

The MSU CARES Act application will be a completely online process. There will be two versions of the applications. The first version will be sent to the 75 percent of MSU students who may be eligible and that have already submitted their FAFSA to MSU. The application will only have one question dealing with their expenses resulting in the disruption to campus operations at MSU.

That question will ask the student if they incurred expenses related to food, course materials, technology, healthcare or childcare costs related to the disruption of campus operations related to COVID-19.

The second version of the application will be sent to the 25 percent of MSU students who may be eligible but have not completed or sent their FAFSA to MSU. The second version application will have two questions. The first question asks the student if they incurred expenses related to food, course materials, technology, healthcare or childcare costs related to the disruption of campus operations related to COVID-19.

The second question will address the student eligibility for Federal Aid and the need to complete the FAFSA. The basic details on the application will seek to determine if the student is a citizen or eligible noncitizen, if the individual has a valid Social Security number, whether male students have registered for Selective Service, verify a valid high school diploma or equivalent, and verify additional personal information required by federal law for CARES Act emergency fund eligibility.

If the second group of students meet those eligibility requirements, they still must complete the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by June 1, 2020. The FAFSA can be completed at https://studentaid.gov. Once completed, the MSU Financial Aid Office will determine eligibility for the CARES Act emergency funding. If you are awarded funds, you will receive a confirmation email.

Students with COVID-19 related financial concerns may also be assisted by the Student Relief Fund. For information about the Student Relief Fund and how to make a request, please contact the Dean of Students office at [email protected].

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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