Photo / The White House

Rowan University’s Federal Work-Study Program has ended for the remainder of the semester. Eligible students will have the opportunity to receive payments from Rowan through the recently passed United States CARES Act, according to an email sent to students enrolled in the program and confirmed by Vice President for University Relations Joe Cardona.

With just under three weeks remaining in the semester, Rowan University alerted students enrolled in the program that funding for the Federal Work-Study Program has been discontinued. This is a yearly occurrence and is not a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Cardona.

Each year, the United States Department of Education allocates a certain amount of money to each institution of higher education. This year, the 640 Rowan students enrolled in the program used all the money that had been allocated, resulting in a depletion of funding for the program.

“All federal work study students receive X-amount of dollars, but they have to use it or lose it,” Cardona said. “In a sense, they have to use it quickly and do their work because at the tail end, there may be a situation where all the students have used all their money and then we run out of the pot of money.”

In previous years, individual students haven’t used all the funding they’ve been allocated, allowing other students enrolled in the program to earn those funds.

“What happens in some years is that the students that get Federal Work-Study don’t use it,” Cardona said. “There’s money in the pot that goes towards funding other students. So in this particular year, the pot is all used up, and we’re two weeks away from the end of the school year… I know that sounds a little convoluted, but that’s how the system works. More students are allocated for Federal Work-Study money than the federal government gives us to cover.”

Cardona stressed that financially vulnerable students will have the opportunity to receive payments through the recently-passed United States CARES Act.

The United States Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed in the U.S. Senate by a 96-0 vote and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, is a $2.2 trillion package to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The university will receive $14.5 million from the federal government, of which about half is earmarked for students.

Students will receive additional information about the program over the next week, including a questionnaire to gauge each student’s eligibility. The allocations will operate based on a points system. If a student is food insecure or has lost their job to take care of a family member suffering from COVID-19, they’ll receive more points, resulting in a higher ranking in the system and a larger payment. Students who qualify for financial aid or who are enrolled in the Federal Work-Study Program will automatically begin with more points given their financial state. These payments will continue being processed into the summer and will cover graduating seniors as well.

“There will be a timeline when we’re asking people to apply for funds. And we’ll be reviewing those funds on a regular basis as they come in,” Cardona said. “When someone submits the form, then we have to go verify everything. Then we’ll determine how much money [the student] receives.”

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