MACOMB/MOLINE, IL — COVID-19 has created challenges for many college students and their families across the nation, and Western Illinois University is working to ease the financial stress that is affecting its students as a result of the pandemic. According to WIU Financial Aid Director Bobbi Smith, the WIU Office of Financial Aid has in
MACOMB/MOLINE, IL — COVID-19 has created challenges for many college students and their families across the nation, and Western Illinois University is working to ease the financial stress that is affecting its students as a result of the pandemic.
According to WIU Financial Aid Director Bobbi Smith, the WIU Office of Financial Aid has in place a financial circumstance appeal for a review of financial aid eligibility using projected 2021 income versus earned 2019 income.
“If students and their families have been financially impacted by the pandemic, we encourage our students to complete a special circumstance appeal ,” Smith said.
The following appeal forms are available: parent/student income appeal; loss of benefit; tuition paid; and medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance.
Smith added that if families have been impacted by other catastrophic events, such as fire, flood or other natural disaster, or taken funds from a retirement account, students/parents can submit a personal statement and any supporting documentation to financial aid to account for these one-time expenses/funds. Appeals and/or special circumstance statements can be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan authorizing the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III) into law and appropriating $39.6 billion in support of institutes of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues despite COVID-19. WIU will receive $22 million, of which $11 million must be paid directly to students.
“WIU will allocate these funds between the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semester to students enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours who are pursuing a degree through WIU and meeting or have successfully appealed satisfactory academic progress,” Smith explained.
Students will be automatically awarded based on meeting the conditions outlined above. Priority distribution of funds will be given to students with high need as determined through FAFSA and their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). No application is required to apply for HEERF funds, however students must complete the Emergency Aid Authorization form via STARS to determine if funds awarded will be applied to student charges or refunded to the student.
In addition to the Emergency Aid Authorization form students are encouraged to set-up direct deposit to ensure timely processing of any and all refunds that may result in overpayment of charges.
In addition to these processes’ unique to WIU, the federal government has enacted several programs to benefit students enrolled in higher education, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit , an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanded SNAP eligibility.
Questions related to any of these COVID benefits can be directed to the Financial Aid Office at (309)298-2446 or email@example.com.