Millions of dollars in financial assistance still available through HEERF III

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Photo credit: edustuff.com.ng

Fatima Aziz, Staff Writer

According to the Montgomery College Office of Financial Aid, approximately $20 million in grant money is currently available to all Montgomery College students. These grants, besides paying for tuition, can also be used for other student expenses such as housing, food, childcare and healthcare including mental health. In the recently released Student Assistance Report (SAR), the college described how funds have been awarded and allocated to students as of Jan 6, 2022.

As part of the American Relief Plan (ARP), funds under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III), amounting to over $31 million have been authorized to Montgomery College in an effort to help students who have been affected financially by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Shamsah Hussein, the Students Information Systems (SIS) manager at Montgomery College, students have until the end of the Spring semester 2022 to apply. Currently enrolled students are still able to submit their application for the spring semester by searching for the “Federal ARP Student Emergency Assistance Grant Request Form” on the Montgomery College website. The absolute deadline for submissions is “by the end of the spring semester or when we run out of funds, whichever comes first”, she said in an email.

As of Jan 6, 2022, Montgomery College has approved more than 3,700 student awards under HEERF III. According to the SAR, Montgomery College has awarded $11 million in the previous semester alone, out of which $8 million was requested by the Students to apply towards their tuition whereas $3 million was paid directly to the students in the form of direct deposits and or checks.

Grants amounting up to $1,500 for the summer and $3,000 for the Fall and Spring semesters have been allocated for each eligible Montgomery College student. However, students are categorized into priority groups by Montgomery College to ensure that students with the highest need are awarded accordingly.

Montgomery College has set up eight priority groups according to the Montgomery College ARP Act Student Assistance Report. According to the eight priority groups, students eligible for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) and Maryland State Financial Aid (MSFAA) are considered first. The 3rd and 4th priority groups apply to students eligible for need-based benefits.

According to National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), in regards to student eligibility at present, all students including undocumented, dreamers, Deferred Against Childhood Arrival (DACA) applicants, Asylum Seekers, International Students are now eligible to apply for the grant. Therefore, the 5th priority group includes students who are considered International and or “Alien“due to their status in the United States.

The 6th priority group includes international students with higher financial needs as per The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Income Eligibility Guidelines. Finally, priority group 7 and 8 apply to both domestic and international students with the lowest financial need according to the Montgomery College ARP Act Student Assistance Report.

In order to be eligible for the ARP grant, students need to be enrolled on and or after the date of the Declaration of Emergency due to the Covid-19 Pandemic (March 13, 2020) to be eligible for the grant.

Students have until the end of the Spring 2022 semester to submit their application. Currently enrolled students are still able to submit their application for the spring semester by searching for the “Federal ARP Student Emergency Assistance Grant Request From” on the Montgomery College website.

For more information and help with the ARP grant application, contact the Montgomery College Office of Financial Aid via email at [email protected] or by phone at (240) 567-5100.