Recently, Dickinson College received 1.8 million USD from the American Rescue Plan, as part of the third distribution of COVID-related grants from the United States’ Department of Education. This third round of funding is included in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which was approved on March 11th 2021 and has provided post-secondary institutions with 39.6 billion USD in funding as a way to assist its students with financial needs resulting from the pandemic. Dickinson received this additional funding because they had applied for other rounds of the HEERF.
Leah Young, director of financial aid at Dickinson, is responsible for dispersing the funds that Dickinson received. According to Ms. Young, as of September 12th, Dickinson has dispersed 1.6 million of the allocated funds to 370 students whose applications were approved. Once Dickinson received the resources, the financial aid office first contacted high-need students, urging them to apply for the grant. The financial aid office then notified all Dickinsonians of this opportunity. In order to determine eligibility, Dickinsonians must fill out a form sent out by the school. Young said, “We kept the application as simple as possible to let students self-certify one: that they had been affected by COVID, and two: what types of expenses they were experiencing.”
Dickinson followed federal guidelines in choosing which students could receive assistance. Dickinson decided that any student who has attended school during the pandemic and has an expected family contribution of less than the cost of attendance are eligible to receive a grant. Each student who applied could receive up to 6,500 dollars depending on their expected financial contribution. The funds Dickinson received have recently been made available to all Dickinsonians with demonstrated financial need, including first-year students and international students. Although funding was previously reserved for domestic students, international students have now also been included in the criteria to receive funding. Due to this modification, Dickinson has been able to accept virtually all of the 391 requests for funds.
Young and the Dickinson community hope that this funding will alleviate the financial stresses that have been exacerbated for some Dickinsonians throughout the pandemic. Ms. Young mentions that this funding can potentially assist students with other costs that traditional financial aid does not cover.
While Dickinson’s financial aid office does not anticipate any future opportunities of the sort, Young mentions that the financial aid office is always willing to assist students with managing their funding. Beyond the HEERF funds, the financial aid office provides appointments for students who want to discuss their funding, and the team in the financial aid office is always working to find solutions for students who may struggle financially.