K-State still waiting on promised $12.6 million in federal coronavirus relief funding

(Archive photo by Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

As part of the third wave of the federal coronavirus relief bill, Kansas State is expected to receive a total of $12.6 million in emergency funding.

Vice president for communications and marketing Jeff Morris said the university has prepared the applications for students to ask for some of the money, but one key thing is missing — the actual money.

The first half of the budget, which is supposed to be made available soon, is earmarked for emergency financial aid for students. The remaining $6.3 million is for the university to use as needed, but none of the money has come down the pipeline yet.

Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management, said the expectation is that the money will be made available by the end of the week.

“This funding has not been available to the to the university yet, and we have not been able to distribute any funds to our students yet,” Goos said.

Part of the slow rollout is associated with the required approval processes from the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, guidance and procedures for distribution of funds had to be laid out before institutions could access them.

“It just takes time for the federal government to be able to process those monies in a way that we can access them,” Goos said.

When the money is available, a new application will be posted for students to fill out. To be eligible for the money, Goos said students must have completed a FAFSA, need to be Title IV eligible and need to have been enrolled in a certain number of on-campus credit hours during the spring 2020 semester.

Per Department of Education guidelines, students who started out the semester already taking a full-online course load will not be eligible because expenses they might have incurred through the pandemic wouldn’t have been directly caused by a shift in campus operations.

“The expenses are supposed to be expenses related to a disruption of campus operations specifically,” Goos said. “It’s very specific on what we can allow.”

Goos estimated that some 10,000 students at K-State could be eligible for some relief from the CARES Act, which accounts for about half of the student population.

One of the key stipulations for students to receive some funding is that they must be able to prove that they’ve incurred extra costs because campus was shut down. It can apply to technology, childcare and added transportation expenses, but it cannot cover wages lost because of the pandemic.

“We are to prioritize the funds based off of expenses incurred, as well as demonstrated financial need,” Goos said. “We’ve been told that we have to prioritize students with greatest need.”

Students who are granted funds from the CARES Act will receive it directly and it will not go through their KSIS account like it would for normal financial aid that comes through the university. Instead, students can opt to receive the money via direct deposit or in a mailed check.

The application will not be too difficult, Goos said, and should take students about five minutes to complete. It could be more time consuming if a student had several expenses incurred from the on-campus disruption. Those applications are processed through the Office of Financial Aid.

The timeline between when a student completes the application and when the would receive their relief money is unclear.

“We’ll have a better idea once we’ve awarded the first few on what the turnaround time will be,” Goos said.

The second half of $12.6 million will be a little more flexible, Goos said. Specific guidance hasn’t been made available on what limitations might come with the funds, but they could be used to help faculty and other university stakeholders.

“We’re still having conversations about the different ways that we might be able to use that money, and we have not made decisions to my knowledge on how we’re going to use those,” Goos said. “It’s supposed to be making sure that we provide that accessibility to support our faculty and staff so that our students have a quality experience.”

Students who don’t qualify for the federal relief funding are still able to apply for other emergency financial aid through the university.

“Just know that we understand that all students have been hit by a financial hardship,” Goos said. “We understand that many students are impacted by this in multiple ways.”

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.