UCF set to pass out relief money to students
Photo courtesy University of Central Florida.

UCF University of Central Florida
UCF has $25 million in federal relief aid available to students in economic crisis.

The University of Central Florida is preparing to provide federal relief aid to students struggling with expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university announced Wednesday it is opening applications for $25.5 million to be distributed to eligible students through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The relief is applicable toward a variety of emergency financial needs students may be facing, including having to pay off-campus rent on private apartments leased in Orlando or near other UCF campuses that the students could no longer live in.

“This is an important step in helping eligible students overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic and continue on their paths to academic and career success,” Maribeth Ehasz, vice president of student development and enrollment services, said in an email sent to students today.

The federal emergency funding was allocated based on each university’s population of students eligible for federal Pell Grants. UCF received the largest allocation of Florida’s dozen public universities, and the fourth-largest in the nation.

The university received a total of $51 million in emergency funding through the CARES Act.

Students’ applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. May 19. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible, including those graduating in the spring, 2020. UCF will hold a virtual commencement for that class on Saturday

All applications will be considered, but the university said it will set a priority of helping students with the most urgent needs. As an example, the university noted that students who have had difficulty paying off-campus rent or who had to purchase equipment to complete their courses online will be prioritized over students who have already received housing or dining refunds.

To be eligible for funding, students must have submitted a 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or submit a FAFSA application at the same time they apply for CARES Act funding. The federal legislation also requires that students seeking aid be degree-seeking; enrolled in the term for which they are seeking assistance; and U.S. citizens.

UCF closed its campus to in-person classes, switching all student to distance education for all classes, on March 16.

Ironically, students who already had been fully enrolled in UCF Online are not eligible for the federal aid.

Due to the high volume of applications expected and the time it will take to review them, students might not receive the money for three to four weeks, the university advised.

Students who are not eligible for CARES Act funding or need additional assistance may apply for help from the UCF Student Emergency Fund by emailing Student Care Services at [email protected]. The UCF community has donated more than $135,000 to this emergency fund to help with housing insecurity and other unexpected expenses.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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