CU Boulder marked a major milestone this month in its mission to support current students through the COVID-19 pandemic by beginning to finalize distribution of the more than $44 million of federal funds allotted for student pandemic relief.
CU Boulder first applied for emergency aid through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economics Security Act (CARES) in April 2020. The university subsequently applied for two additional rounds of HEERF. To date, CU Boulder’s Office of Financial Aid provided HEERF emergency grants to more than 14,000 students from May 2020 to March 2022.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly stressful on college students,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “We are thankful that we were able to quickly make these critical connections to ensure students were able to continue their education.”
Typical awards ranged from $500 to $2,000 and helped students pay for COVID-19-related emergency expenses, including technology needs, tuition, books and supplies, housing or food insecurity, mental health or counseling costs that exceeded campus services and child care costs necessary to complete classwork. Federal Pell Grant-eligible students and students with demonstrated financial need were prioritized.
“The size and duration of this emergency was unimaginable before 2020,” said Chief Financial Officer Carla Ho’a. “We are grateful to have been able to deliver vital support to students who needed it.”
The Office of Financial Aid, which is part of the Division of Enrollment Management, played a critical role in keeping students’ academic careers on track, said Director of Financial Aid Ofelia Morales.
“Our financial aid team worked countless hours to identify thousands of students who needed help and minimized barriers for those students to receive HEERF aid,” Morales said. “Our efforts also gave us a framework to help students through other emergencies this year.”
The university delivered more than $358,000 of emergency funds to students impacted by the Marshall Fire using mechanisms similar to those developed to distribute HEERF funds.
“We want to take the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and understand how emergencies impact students’ academic progress,” said Morales. “Then we can start to imagine how we can support students in the future.”