$7.8 million in CRRSAA funds available to OSU students

Keith Raab, Oregon State’s director of financial aid, can be seen in front of the Kerr Administration building. With COVID-19 bringing financial burden on the community, Keith and the financial aid team are always looking for ways to support and stimulate Oregon State from the ground up.

Cara Nixon, News Contributor

The recently passed Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act authorizes funds for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II, giving Oregon State University students financial aid amidst the pandemic. 

The original Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provided for HEERF I, while CRRSAA provides additional funding for HEERF II to help more students. 

Oregon State University announced on Feb. 22 that the university has received federal assistance funding for students through the CRRSAA.

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According to Keith Raab, the director of financial aid at OSU, the fund totals almost $7.8 million. Raab explained CRRSAA is different from the CARES Act because HEERF II provides for a broader selection of emergencies. A larger group of students are eligible for the aid, including Ecampus students.

The funding can be used for anything related to a student’s cost of attendance, including tuition fees, housing, books, transportation, meals, general and mental health care expenses and childcare. 

The legislation states that the university has to prioritize the funds by greatest student need. OSU will do so through students’ Free Application for Federal Student Aid and their Expected Family Contribution. Raab said that the application is fairly quick

“The emergency aid application is very short and we encourage students who need assistance to apply,”  Raab said via email. 

The first evaluations and payments began on March 1. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate-seeking students enrolled at any OSU campus are eligible. Students must have a current FAFSA open, and international, DACA and undocumented students are ineligible for the funds. 

Besides CRRSAA funds, OSU has also provided emergency aid to students through the OSU Foundation and BeaversCare, as well as a general use scholarship fund.

According to Raab, there are a few main differences between CRRSAA and the OSU Foundation funding. 

Firstly, CRRSAA funds are provided by the federal government, while OSU Foundation funds are provided by donors. Secondly, the Foundation does not have specific restrictions like the CRRSAA; the only eligibility requirement for Foundation funds is enrollment at OSU, making it much more flexible. Lastly, the dollar amount for the CRRSAA is significantly higher than the Foundation funding. 

“We are very thankful that people have donated to [the donor fund], it’s just a smaller scale and smaller pool of money,” Raab said. 

Students struggle to remain at college even in pre-pandemic times, according to Raab. COVID-19 has only exacerbated this issue. 

“Students and their families are really struggling,” Raab said. “It has been a significant challenge for many of our students and their families to remain at OSU over the past year.” 

In the first round of HEERF, OSU was able to help more than 3,600 students. With this second round, Raab predicted it will be able to help even more – likely 4,000 or more. 

Raab encouraged all students to fill out the FAFSA so they are eligible for emergency aid through OSU. Students can also complete a Special Conditions Appeal and potentially be eligible for aid if their or their family’s financial situation has changed since filling out the taxes used on the FAFSA. 

Students can apply online at the OSU financial aid website.