Letter concerning distribution of CARES Act emergency grants for students

Dear Scott Jordan and Nathan Fuerst,

We are writing to express our concern regarding how the University plans to distribute CARES Act emergency grants. The email we received from the University on April 29 suggests that it is a federal requirement that students have already filed a 2019-2020 FAFSA in order to receive CARES Act-related aid, and that UConn will be disbursing the CARES emergency grants based on FAFSA data alone. However, according to the FAQ on the Department of Education website that cites Section 484 of the Title IV act: “Students who have not filed a FAFSA but who are eligible to file a FAFSA also may receive emergency financial aid grants.” Thus, we are concerned that the policy stated in the University’s email will prevent students who did not fill out a FAFSA last year from receiving any aid.

The use of the FAFSA for distributing COVID-19 related aid could not have been anticipated by students. The reasons a student may not have filled out a FAFSA include any combination of the following:
1) They were a graduate student with a tuition waiver and/or stipend.
2) They anticipated that they did not qualify for any grants, only loans, such as
undergrads who do not meet aid eligibility requirements (e.g. those who already have a 4 year degree and other non-traditional students).
3) They had employment in part-time or full-time work that covered their expenses.
4) They are not considered an eligible noncitizen.

However, many of the students who did not or could not file FAFSAs are currently experiencing financial issues as a direct result of the pandemic. Many students have been laid off from their part-time and full-time jobs (including many student workers at UConn). Stipend payments for most GAs are expected to end in late May, leaving many GAs unfunded this summer and without viable employment opportunities to keep them financially afloat.

Overall, using the FAFSA alone to determine eligibility does not provide a current snapshot of a student’s financial needs. The FAFSA uses tax information from two years prior. It is likely that many students, based on their own or their family’s income reported in their 2019-2020 FAFSAs, would not have been eligible for aid for this academic year, but due to financial issues stemming from layoffs or imminent layoffs, would need assistance now.

While we understand that there are federal strings attached to how and to whom CARES Act aid can be distributed, we demand that the University adopts policies that allow for the most equitable distribution of aid possible. This means that students who were eligible to file a 2019-2020 FAFSA but did not file before the University deadline last year should still be eligible for grants. Students should have ample opportunity to update or file a FAFSA if need be, and the University should clearly communicate to the student body that this is an option and provide them sufficient time to do so. And while FAFSA, or eligibility to file FAFSA, are federal requirements determining if a student can receive a CARE grant, the University can design policies that take information in addition to the FAFSA into account when distributing aid to ensure it is done equitably.

We also demand full transparency regarding how the $10.7 million CARES Act emergency funding is allocated, as well as transparency for all future aid received during this crisis.

This is a difficult time for all, but the University has a responsibility to do right by its students. We demand that the University acts in the interests of student welfare, rather than convenience, in distributing aid.


GEU-UAW Local 6950 Executive Board (Jordan McMillan, Ashley Robinson, Sara Ailshire, Thomas Reid, Mary Hartford, Lauren Dougher, Krista Dotzel, and Amy Fehr).
Robert Smith, Civil & Environmental Engineering, GA
Gianmarco Vega-Molino Mathematics Doctoral Candidate
Manuel Ramirez, Sociology, Graduate Assistant
Asmita Aasaavari, graduate assistant, sociology department, UConn
Shaine Scarminach, History, Graduate Assistant
Louvins Pierre, Department of Communication , graduate assistant
Logan Fries, Physics, Graduate Assistant
Elizabeth Herder, Molecular and Cell Biology, Graduate Student
Jillian Ives, Educational Leadership, GA
Kayla Perkins, MSW student, School of Social Work
Lauren Barrett, DMS, Graduate Assistant
Stephen Cangelosi, Mechanical Engineering Graduate Assistant
Ashley McLeod
Sanyukta Patil
Mandy Long, Department of Philosophy, Graduate Assistant
Mohammad Aynal Haque, Political Science, Graduate Assistant
Rianka Roy, Sociology, Graduate student
Hannah Austin, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Graduate Assistant
Daniel Kpormegbey, Department of Statistics, TATA
Jessica Strom, History, graduate assistant
Mary Bugbee, Graduate Assistant in Anthropology
Elena Skosey-LaLonde, Department of Anthropology, graduate assistant.
Shaun Simoneau Undergraduate Political Science & Public Policy Master
James Mickley - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Postdoc
Tulika Paul, Statistics, GA
Jerin Lee, Psychological Sciences, Graduate Assistant
Md Fahim, Dept of CSE, GA
Rehenuma Lazin, Dept of ENVE, GA
William Biel, Medieval Studies, graduate assistant
Nicole Hyman, HESA, GA
Adrinah Vaughn, ACES, undergraduate
Luke Anderson, Anthropology and Nutritional Sciences, Undergraduate
Anna Ziering, English, Graduate Assistant
Omar Amer, Computer Science, Graduate Assistant
Zoe Jensen, Psychological Sciences, Undergraduate
Catherine Albers-Morris, PhD student, Medieval Studies
Sameera Sansare, pharmaceutical sciences, graduate student
Nirnoy Dan
Kerry Carnahan, English, Graduate Worker
Ashley Gangi, Graduate Assistant, English Department
Adriana Vega-Molino, Mathematics, Teaching Assistant
Blake Smith, Exercise Science, Undergraduate
Julia Brush, English, Graduate Assistant
Ketki Bhalerao, Chemistry, graduate
Nicole Lawrence English GA/TA
Chelsea Connery, Department of Educational Leadership - Leadership and Educational Policy, Graduate Assistant
Kari Daly, English, Graduate Student
Mollie Kervick, English, Graduate Assistant
Kiedra Taylor, English, Graduate Assistant
Chriss Sneed, Sociology PhD Candidate
Sylvia Pu, Sociology, Graduate Assistant
Shiv Patel
Alexandra Pierce, Department of Educational Psychology/School Psychology, Graduate Assistant
Sophia Buckner, English, graduate assistant
Lynne Alexander, SSW Student, WGSS GA
Nabil Tueme, Sociology, Graduate Assistant
Marcus Garcia, Sociology, PhD Student
Tithi Basu
Michio Agresta, Natural Resources, undergraduate  
Carol Ann Jackson, Sociology, Graduate Assistant
Marco Carfagnini, Mathematics Doctoral Candidate
Randy Torres, El Instituto, Graduate Assistant
Charles Perosino, Political Science/Spanish major, undergraduate
Madelyn Rosalyn Dwyer History, Undergraduate
Noble Mushtak
Elizabeth Brown, Institute of Materials Science, graduate
Lisa Paolini, School of Social Work, Graduate student
Geoffrey Harrison, Physics, Graduate Assistant
Elizabeth Collins, undergraduate linguistics/psychology
Samadrita Kuiti, English, Graduate Assistant
Paula Weinman, English, PhD Student
Elizabeth Collins, undergraduate linguistics/psychology
Kelly Coleman, Kinesiology, PhD Student (Teaching and Research Assistant)
Semra Bayik, Sociology Graduate Assistant
Mohammed Albayati, GA, ME department
Olivia Dono, Sociology, Graduate Assistant
Holly Fitzgerald, Psychology & nursing, graduate research assistant
Mansi Malhotra, Chemistry, Graduate assistant
Robert Cotto, Jr, Educational Leadership, GA
Brittany Diaz, Political Science and Human Rights, Undergraduate
Jackson Adams English/Communications Undergraduate
Michael Aisevbonaye | Mechanical Engineering | Undergrad
Paulina Maranges Pérez, Individualized and Interdisciplinary Studies, Undergraduate
Monica Martinelli, LCL Doctoral candidate
Alexis Taylor, WGSS and Human Rights, undergraduate
C.L. Dominique Courts, School of Social Work PhD Student
Lily Luo, political science, grad assistant
Cara Cancelmo, Graduate Student, Sociology Department
Kevin Zevallos, Graduate Student, Sociology Department
Cristian Aviles-Martin, Chemistry, Graduate Assistant
Waseet Kazmi, Mathematics, Graduate Assistant
Lucas da Cunha Godoy, Teaching Assistant
Sian Charles-Harris, curriculum and instruction, graduate assistant
Geno Villlafano, graduate student, Molecular Cell Biology
Tanu Mehta, Pharmaceutical Sciences, GA
Pablo Aguero-Barrantes, Civil & Environmental Engineering, GA
Carnisha Gilder Graduate Student Allied Health Sciences
Ashanté Kindle, School of Fine Arts, Graduate Assistant
Mansi Malhotra, Chemistry, Graduate assistant
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