Georgia State awards CARES Act funds to those in need

Illustration by Monique | The Signal

COVID-19 has shown to not only affect people mentally and physically, but also financially. 

College students, who already faced difficulties transitioning to online-classes, are having trouble finding a way to make ends meet during this financial strain. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was created to deal with the economic impact caused by the pandemic. 

According to Panther Answer, the U.S. secretary of education made final decisions on the financial resources that will provide grants to colleges and universities for students seeking financial support.

During the Virtual Town Hall on April 17, Georgia State University President Mark Becker announced that Georgia State is one of the colleges receiving the most money from the CARES Act.

According to Forbes, about $8.9 billion will go to public colleges and universities, $2.5 billion to private nonprofit institutions and $1.1 billion to for-profits. 

The schools with large student populations will receive the most money. Georgia State is placed at No. 6 out of 10 public schools that are receiving a larger portion.

Georgia State received more than $45 million from the bill. Out of that, $22 million will go to students. 

According to Becker, two-thirds of the $22 million will be given to students that need the money first. 

According to Andrea Jones, vice president of Public Relations and Marketing at Georgia State, there are two ways financial support is being given to students.

One of them is being able to apply for assistance from the Emergency Assistance Fund by submitting a request detailing their situation. 

The fund launched on March 19 to support students during this time of need. The donations are a combination of philanthropic gifts and CARES Act funds. 

According to GSU News Hub, Student Financial Services began administering assistance grants in 2017, funded by corporate and foundation donors. 

Now, donors can give large and small amounts of money to support Georgia State’s students in need. 

So far, 1,242 donors have helped raise $445,141 to support the Emergency Assistance Fund.

Georgia State has awarded an additional 2,000 grants totaling more than $800,000 through its Emergency Assistance Fund, according to Jones. 

“A committee consisting of representatives from the Dean of Students Office and the Office of Financial Aid meets daily to review applications to the Emergency Assistance Fund and to make awards,” she said.

To determine the amount of money each student will receive from the CARES Act, Georgia State used the student’s estimated financial contribution, which helps highlight the students with the greatest financial need to be awarded the largest grants. 

“Georgia State has already distributed CARES Act funds to almost 23,000 students through direct grants ranging from $200 to $700,” Jones said.

Additional direct grants will be awarded to eligible students registered for summer classes. 

The grants are distributed through BankMobile, a banking system partnered with colleges and universities to issue refunds. 

Students who choose to open a BankMobile Vibe checking account have access to the funds the same day it is processed. Other students will have access to the funds within one to two days of disbursement, depending on their bank. 

Chikara Harmer, a student at Georgia State, received $700 from the CARES Act. Harmer is planning to use the money towards the Test of Essential Academic Skills and studying tools to help her get into nursing school. 

Harmer is still working for Student Life at the Clarkston Campus, and she is also running her hair business to stay financially stable during the pandemic.

“It surprised me that I had to call financial aid, but I am grateful for the extra [assistance],” Harmer said. “I’m going to provide myself with knowledge of the business that I want to accomplish, time to figure me out and time to relax.”