UTRGV fall financial relief deadline approaching

Some students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will be eligible to receive grant money to help them with expenses this fall, but the deadline is coming up quick.

Two programs are open for applications, one that will distribute $1,000 payments to students through federal coronavirus relief funds and another that will distribute $500 payments to students for tuition.

According to the university, there’s no strings attached to the money and no requirement to pay it back.

“Our constant focus is to do all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, and to do all we can to ensure their academic success,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey wrote in a statement. “We know the pandemic continues to affect many of our students and their families financially. To help enable your success, and recognizing that everyone’s needs might be different right now, we have improved our Fall Relief Package to provide you with even more financial support.”

The deadline for both is Aug. 7, according to UTRGV Associate Vice President for Strategic Enrollment and Student Affairs Griselda Castilla, who detailed the programs in two Facebook Live videos.

Castilla said that the eligibility funded through the relief money is determined by the federal government and essentially students have to meet Title 4 eligibility requirements. She said the funds are available to students who graduated from high school before May and are enrolled in at least one class. International students do not qualify.

“To be eligible, students must enroll by Friday, Aug. 7 and meet certain financial aid eligibility requirements such as demonstrating satisfactory academic progress, not being default on a student and other similar eligibility requirements,” Castilla said.

Another requirement for eligibility is that students are not enrolled in fully online programs, although Castilla advised that students whose classes have been switched to virtual learning due to the pandemic may still qualify.

“There is a difference between fully online programs and being in courses that have been updated to online because of COVID-19,” she said.

Castilla said that half of the thousand dollar grant would be distributed in mid-August and that the other half would be distributed after the 12th day of class. Notifications for both programs will go out around Aug. 10 and cash grant funds can be used fairly flexibly, she said.

“It’s really up to you what you want to do with those $500, but our goal is to ensure that we have these monies in your hands before classes begin so you can start preparing,” Castilla said.

The $1,000 can even go toward personal purchases.

“We know that many of you may need to purchase a laptop, you may need to update your laptop, update your computer or purchase software or headphones. Things like that,” Castilla said.

The $500 tuition relief funds are available to incoming freshmen who graduated from high school in or after May and are enrolled full time, a release from the university read.

Castilla highly encouraged students to submit a financial aid application.

“Given what is going on in our economy right now, perhaps before you may have thought you were not eligible for financial aid, but we do encourage you to submit that application because you may be eligible now, especially if there has been a loss of income,”

More information on the two programs is available at https://link.utrgv.edu/fall-relief/. Castilla’s question and answer videos about the programs are posted on UTRGV’s Facebook page.

mwilson@themonitor.com