Emergency student aid: Organizations launch fund, law offers relief for student veterans

A coalition of education-focused companies and nonprofit organizations has launched an emergency aid effort to help students affected by COVID-19, including those left out of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund distributions.

Course Hero, an education technology company; the ECMC Foundation, which works to improve underserved students’ postsecondary outcomes; and Imaginable Futures, a philanthropic investment firm, have provided $1.1 million in initial funding, according to Inside Higher Ed. The COVID-19 Student Emergency Aid Initiative will have two phases: in the first, Course Hero will work alongside several education-related nonprofits to bring attention to the fund and distribute aid to students who need it most. In the second phase, students will be able to apply for aid through the emergency aid platform Edquity, if their college is a partner.

Related: Edtech start-up focuses on connecting students with emergency aid >

Sara Goldrick-Rab, chief strategy officer for emergency aid at Edquity, emphasized the importance of the initiative and of distributing the funds to students barred from receiving CARES Act support. “I wanted to call this ‘the believe in all students fund,’’ Goldrick-Rab told Inside Higher Ed. “I don’t know how we get out of a pandemic without all of them having a good shot at a college degree and without all of them contributing to our economy.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has come under fire for excluding not only undocumented and international students from receiving emergency grants from the stimulus, but also students who have performed poorly academically or have previously defaulted on student loan payments. In excluding students who don’t meet federal student aid requirements, the education department is imposing limits that will only make it more difficult for the neediest students to get help during the pandemic, experts say.

New law brings relief for student veterans

In other emergency relief news, President Donald Trump recently signed into law the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, which will provide protections for student veterans at U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The new law will allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to pay student veterans who rely on work-study jobs for income, even while their campuses are closed. In addition, the legislation clears the way for student veterans to receive a housing allowance if their college or university has closed down to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

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