Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $116 Million in Aid for College Students
Funding will help cover expenses like course materials, technology, housing, food, health care, and childcare
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that over $116 million will be distributed among 73 colleges, universities, and community colleges throughout Oregon to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The funding will be allocated to colleges and universities who will then determine which students will receive the cash grants.
The funding was secured through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which Congress approved last month. The senators fought to ensure that college students would receive badly-needed relief for unmet financial needs in the legislative package. School allocations are set by a formula that is weighted significantly by the number of full-time students who are Pell-eligible but also takes into consideration the total population of the school and the number of students who were not enrolled full-time online before the coronavirus outbreak.
“Every student—regardless of the color of their skin, their zip code, or their parents’ income—deserves a shot at a great education,” said Merkley. “We can’t let the coronavirus pandemic take that shot away, and that means we have to help our college students survive this unprecedented public health crisis. I’m pleased that this funding will help provide that support, and I’m going to keep fighting for the resources our students need in the upcoming emergency relief legislation.”
Senators Merkley and Wyden have also pushed Senate and House leadership to include more funding in upcoming coronavirus emergency relief bills to help K-12 students gain access to adequate home internet connectivity to complete remote learning lessons, and demanded better mobile internet service for low-income Americans affected by the pandemic—including students pursuing a higher education while relying on the internet for lectures and assignments.
“Oregon State University greatly appreciates the effective efforts of Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden for ensuring that the CARES Act provides emergency financial aid funding for our students, and we are pleased that the U.S. Department of Education is moving forward quickly to make these funds available,” said Ed Ray, President of Oregon State University. “The federally-funded emergency financial aid grants will help to provide timely resources for many of our students in need. As we go forward, OSU will continue to work with our senators on efforts to help support our students and university community as we move through this crisis and into recovery.”
Allocation of funds are being distributed throughout Oregon’s universities and community colleges. Oregon Coast Community College President Dr. Birgitte Rysling says although some college and university funding amounts have been announced, OCCC will not get their allocation for another two to three weeks. The delay stems from OCCC recently becoming a full, stand-alone community college.