Students who were previously ineligible for funding from the CARES Act might have new hope for receiving it soon.
Student Body President Trevor Pope met with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s Legislative Correspondent Jaime Varela Tuesday to secure more funding for UF students through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The Student Body presidents of Florida State University and University of South Florida were also present during the meeting.
During the meeting, Pope and other Student Body presidents told Varela colleges need more funding for students who were excluded from CARES Act, such as students who are claimed as dependents by parents or other caregivers on tax forms, and international, online and DACA students, Pope said during an interview with The Alligator.
Through the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Education provided UF with about $31 million in relief funds. The university designated more than $15.5 million of the funds to students as emergency aid. However, international, online and DACA students were not eligible for funding.
Nationally, the CARES Act provided adults with a stimulus check of $1,200, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Students who were labeled as dependents for tax purposes did not receive the check.
The meeting gave student leaders an opportunity to provide more context about the student experience to Sen. Rubio, Pope said. They talked about why students were struggling financially because of COVID-19, Pope said. Students losing jobs and internships contribute to the problem, and there’s also a housing issue where students are locked into leases, he said.
Based on the meeting, Pope said he thinks there will be additional funding somehow, but he’s not sure to whom the funding will extend. It all depends on the financial need as COVID-19 progresses, he said.
“Our job as the Student Body presidents is to kind of explain the struggles of many of our students and how positive CARES Act funding could be if they choose to create another stimulus package,” Pope said.
An extension of CARES Act funding would benefit the Mexican American Student Association’s general body members, as many were ineligible for the funding because some are international or DACA students, MASA Chief of Staff Emily Ramirez said.
The stresses of finances can hinder a student’s education, the 19-year-old UF political science senior said. MASA supports the international and DACA students negatively impacted by COVID-19, she added.
“They should be able to receive as much funding as any of their peers who are from the United States,” she said, “Because we think that it would be incredibly unfair for their education to be affected by unequal treatment.”
Meghan McGlone is a UF junior majoring in journalism and English, and this year she’s the City and County Commission reporter. In past years, she’s served as the University Editor, the Student Government reporter, and other positions. Her favorite past time is eating gummy worms and reading a good book.