CARES Act funding to help college students pay for food, rent, utilities

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Applications are now being processed, so tens of millions of dollars in federal funding can go directly to college students in Central Texas.

About two weeks ago, U.S. Senator John Cornyn announced several schools in Central Texas would receive a total of $84,147,616 in federal grants to respond to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. He said in a news release, “The grant funding comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act.”

Austin Community College started accepting applications on April 29 for the student aid portion of the funding, and it said it received 1,100 applications in just two hours.

“I don’t think we expected to get that many that quickly,” said Shasta Buchanan, Vice President of Student Affairs at Austin Community College. “It says there’s a lot of need and life has happened to them. The COVID impact has been large.”

Buchanan explained, the funding isn’t to be used for tuition.

Qualifying students can use what they receive to pay for food, housing, transportation, child care or anything else that help them meet their academic goals.

“We want to make sure we can meet our students where they are. We want them to be successful, but most importantly, in order to be successful, you have to take care of those needs that can become a burden or barrier to that success,” Buchanan said.

College students who qualify for federal financial aid can apply through their schools.

Texas State University started accepting applications last week. It said it’s received about 7,000 applications so far.

The University of Texas at Austin said it’s “working through the federal guidelines to determine the best way to distribute funds to our students in need.”

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