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Statement on financial support for students affected by the pandemic

January 25, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our students, the university continues to find ways to financially support our students in need.

Recent federal legislation includes additional funds for colleges and universities to support students impacted by the pandemic.  UW–Madison is expecting our second round of stimulus funds to provide approximately $10 million in critical student support, which will be administered by the Office of Student Financial Aid. To complement these funds, UW Madison also continues to solicit and leverage non-federal funding to support students, including those who may not meet criteria for federal funding. This is in addition to the approximately $10 million in federal funding that UW–Madison distributed to students last year.

On Jan. 26, the ASM Student Council will consider legislation 27-0126-04 to create a new COVID-19 relief fund to help students facing pandemic-related financial challenges using ASM reserve funds to the Tenant Resource Center to administer the student relief fund via landlords and housing agencies.

We share the goal of assisting students in need, but unfortunately, the legislation as written violates University of Wisconsin System Policy 820 and the fund cannot legally move forward. ASM’s proposed legislation references a previous contract with the Tenant Resource Center, which was permissible under System Policy 820 because it offered services to all students. The policy does not authorize segregated fees to be allocated to individual students for support except for wages for student employees, stipends for student government leaders, and childcare assistance for students.

Since the university has mechanisms in place to provide emergency financial aid to students, we have asked ASM to work together with us on identifying the most critical unmet needs for all students. We hope federal guidelines for the next round of funding for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) will be more inclusive; if that is not the case, the university will again use other funds to assist students with needs not covered by the federal dollars.

Students in urgent need of financial assistance can submit an emergency aid application online with the Office of Student Financial Aid.