Cameron students qualify for federal pandemic grants | News

Some Cameron students are seeing a little extra money in their bank accounts courtesy of the federal government.

Cameron University was awarded $1,749,140 as part of the federal Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 27. The funds are intended to directly support students who have demonstrated financial need and may be facing financial challenges because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

After dividing the funds up among qualifying students, Cameron began distributing $1,200 checks to qualified students after the last day to drop classes Jan. 25.

To qualify, each student had to have a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file showing an expected family contribution (EFC) of $5,711 or less. Qualifying students also had to be enrolled and attending classes for the spring 2021 semester on the day the funds were released.

“Slightly more than 1,500 students have qualified for the CRRSSA funds,” said Keith Mitchell, senior director of Public Affairs for Cameron University. “Students are still filing their FAFSA applications, and will continue to do so through the end of this month, so the number of Cameron students who have qualified will continue to grow in the weeks ahead.”

One student who qualified for and received those funds was Elizabeth Cowan-Schmidt, a married mother of two children. Schmidt said the money came at just the right time to help with bills after she was laid off in April. She said the money also would help keep her focused on classes while not worrying about money.

“I think of money in terms of time,” Schmidt said. “Every $16 is one more hour I can spend studying and not at work. One thousand, two hundred dollars is time I can spend working on assignments without stressing over bills and the mortgage. To my family, while $1,200 isn’t a lot of money, it is a lot of bills. I’m grateful for the extra money because it provides me with extra time. It is extra time studying, extra time with the family and makes breathing just a little bit easier during such a stressful time.”

The funds are non-taxable and are not required to be paid back, said a statement on the University’s website.

In addition to the grant funding, the Cameron Aggie Response Fund (CARE) has been established to assist students with immediate needs due to extenuating financial circumstances. CARE is a fund designated to assist students with immediate needs due to extenuating financial circumstances and is funded through donations. The fund has existed since 2016, but recent events have prompted a resurgence in the need of this fund. Students apply through a grant portal and complete a series of questions detailing their case for support, then a committee decides if and how much to award the student.