For the last two semesters, Ferris has offered the HEERF COVID-19 relief fund to students in an attempt to help lessen the financial burden of COVID-19 and get people’s affairs sorted without the extra stress.
This is a $1,000 grant that does not need to be paid back, and it can be received as early as the Friday of the week it was applied for. The only catch is that potential recipients need to be full-time students with at least 12 credit hours in a semester to apply. The grant has been open for the entire school year, and students can apply for it twice, once per semester. For some, it can be a major source of relief for their education.
“College is expensive and COVID has messed up my college plans,” digital animation and game design senior Kieran Starr said. “The extra money has helped to cover some college expenses.”
Starr has been going to school remotely, due to the spread of COVID-19, but tuition has still been a burden for him. After hearing about the grant from friends, he found it to be accessible and helpful in dealing with said issues.
For him, the grant is a good opportunity for everyone, regardless of their status.
“It’s no secret that COVID has absolutely screwed a lot of people over, and at this point, I think the more help people can get in these trying times, the better,” Starr said. “Sure, the grant isn’t a lot of money, but every little bit helps.”
However, it isn’t just tuition that needs to be paid while going to school. Housing is another major financial burden, and, in many cases, the more expensive of the two. Given that Ferris is returning to in-person classes, many who were experiencing a lighter cost of education in the past year have suddenly had to deal with an extra $5,000-$6,000 needing to be paid again.
Ivan Flores, a junior at Ferris, was originally living off-campus for the majority of the second semester of his sophomore year because of his online schedule. He lives in Illinois, making the commute impossible, and the ability to work without paying for housing was too good to ignore. With this return to campus, he feels that many will need to utilize the grant in order to get some relief as things return to some form of normal.
The grant’s accessibility was something important for him, and it pushed him into applying.
“For me, I used around $800 of the $1000 to help towards housing costs,” Flores said. “Anything else went to family costs.”
This focus on housing is important, given Ferris’ tendency to have housing be the majority of the fee for attending. With needing a place to stay, the grant seems to be covering people on this front in some capacity, potentially paying up to around a fifth of the overall cost of living in a dorm or campus suite and giving peace of mind,
“There wasn’t a lengthy application process, and it seemed as if there were very little prerequisites,” Flores said. “I think the grant will help many students if it stays for the rest of the pandemic.”
However, not all the grant money has been used for specifically college. Some students, like sophomore Jacob Roth, have mostly gotten it for the purposes of having extra money in the bank to use in case of emergencies, or for other items like groceries and necessities.
$1,000 can cover a lot of ground in this area, and he feels that it makes sense, given his financial situation.
“I did apply last year because my friends kind of just told me I should,” Roth said. “I didn’t really encounter any difficulties.”
For Roth, he expects many students to use it for mostly educational purposes, though he can see why others would use it for different reasons, like himself. The open-ended nature of the money leaves it to be used in many situations. Given how easy he found it to sign up, he thinks it will be efficient for those that either need or just want the money.
“I do think the grant will help students with their financial situations, due to being out of a job,” Roth said. “It could also help families who have more serious symptoms of COVID pay for treatment if they need to.”