According to the University of Wyoming, students who have suffered financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic can rest a little easier, thanks to a new program aimed at helping them achieve their educational goals.
Gov. Mark Gordon has approved $20 million in federal CARES Act funding to launch the university’s program for students and families affected by the global COVID-19 health crisis. The CARES Wyoming College Grant Program will help stimulate the state’s economy by supporting Wyoming’s workforce through increased student retention and completion at UW, the state’s only public, four-year research university.
“In this challenging time, it could not be more important that we invest in Wyoming’s future by investing in our college students,” Gordon said. “Students who pause their college education often never return to campus. This is an opportunity to help ensure Wyoming students are able to continue pursuing their educational goals.”
To participate in the program, UW students must be U.S. citizens and have been impacted financially by COVID-19. Full-time students will receive up to $3,250 for the fall semester, regardless of their state of residence, including students at the undergraduate and graduate level. For part-time students, the funding will be prorated according to the number of enrolled hours, and all funding will be distributed in fall 2020, according to the release.
All current and new UW degree-seeking students are eligible. The deadline for new students to apply for admission to UW and secure this additional funding for the fall 2020 semester is Friday, Aug. 21. Students who are already enrolled and qualify for CARES Wyoming College Grant Program funding must apply for these funds on or before Tuesday, Dec. 1.
The university is setting up an online interactive tool for students to check if they are eligible to receive funding. Beginning Monday, Aug. 10, full details and application information will be available at www.uwyo.edu/cares.
UW’s 2020 fall semester begins Aug. 24, with a mixture of in-person and online courses. Adjustments to course delivery modalities and schedules as a result of COVID-19 requirements are now reflected in WyoCourses, the online platform where students sign up for classes.
“This plan will help sustain and even grow Wyoming’s talented workforce, critical to the economic future we need after the current financial difficulties,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “Fortunately, we know the character of our Cowboys. Their grit and resilience and determination mean they have what it takes to get back on track, individually and as a university.
“Postsecondary certificate and degree attainment is one of the most critical factors that will assist in the robust and timely economic recovery of Wyoming after the COVID-19 health emergency is over or adequately mitigated.”
The CARES Wyoming College Grant Program will ease the economic burden on students and families by providing financial resources to cover the cost of attendance for those impacted by COVID-19 due to a loss of employment or diminished income.
While UW has an existing program that awards federal, state and private financial aid to its students, this new round of funding will be awarded in a different manner. CARES Wyoming College Grant Program funding will be distributed as “last-dollar-in” financial aid, after Hathaway merit or need-based aid, Pell grant funds, or any other scholarships or grants. The awards will help cover expenses other than tuition and fees, such as housing and meals, as the pandemic has eroded housing and food security of UW students. Recipients must commit to comply with UW’s policies to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected UW students in many ways but, perhaps, the most significant impact has been financial. Many university students and their families have become under-employed or unemployed as a result of the coronavirus health emergency, and, in some cases, students may be forced to delay enrollment or continuation until the economy recovers.
In both the short- and long-term outlook, it is the hope of UW to promote a college-going culture within Wyoming to boost the percentage of the state’s workforce who receive post-secondary education credentials, a key component in speeding up the economic recovery from the pandemic.