Visa Crunch

USA: International Students Received Pandemic Aid Backed By Federal Government

The Missouri Western State University (MWSU) has made more pandemic relief payments supported by the federal government to its students, with money to be distributed at Northwest Missouri State next week.

MWSU offers payouts ranging from $200 to $1,500 per person. The range is adjusted based on the “anticipated family contribution” of a student. Someone who is studying with a lot of help from their parents will most likely be at the bottom of the scale. Someone who comes from a low-income family will be given more. The maximum is given to a self-sufficient adult with no family support. Northwest offers three payment levels: $250, $500, and $1,100.

“This is an important topic for our students and how it impacts them,” said Stacy Carrick, Northwest Vice President of Finance and Administration. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) also has an impact on which tier is granted.

The payments are part of the third tranche of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which was established by President Joe Biden in March as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Over the summer, Biden’s administration increased HEERF eligibility, allowing non-US citizens to receive funds for the first time. International students studying in the United States on a student visa are the largest new recipient category.

The MWSU has paid its payments on October 14 and 15, according to CFO Darrell Morrison, in accordance with a unanimous resolution taken at the Board of Governors’ most recent meeting on August 19.

The Board of Regents of Northwest University decided 6-1 to begin HEERF payments the week after. Regent Jason Klindt has stated that he will not accept any money from non-US nationals. “I’m gonna vote against the program because I think that’s inappropriate, giving US taxpayers dollars to individuals from foreign countries,” Klindt said. “I don’t think that’s appropriate, whether it was intended by Washington or not.”

No one in the Zoom conference directly addressed Klindt’s concerns, but Mary Collins, the University Controller and Associate Vice President of Finance specified how the move that benefits international students came to be.

“I do know that it was highly debated, and there was a lot of controversies,” Collins said. “The international students are our students on campus, and they do have, they do have needs … For us, it really felt like outreach to them, to make sure that they feel included. And it’s an inclusive model, that we’re taking care of all of our students across campus.”

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