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UWisconsin and Student Government Clash Over Financial Aid

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) recently concluded its second round distribution of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund money. However, some students believe that the university should be allocating more money for student support, while administrators have argued that the funding needs to be used to pay for expenses.

“As of March 18th, 2021, we have spent our allotment of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II). If you experience a financial crisis prior to 3/23/21 please contact us during business hours,” the UW website announced.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the Associated Students of Madison, which is the university’s student council, wants to allocate more money towards student rent payments which the university claims is illegal, and the university is taking an approach that students claim is “the bare minimum.”

Chairperson of the Associated Students of Madison, Matthew Mitnick, told The Daily Cardinal that the administration’s “[refusal] to use their cast amount of resources to support students” was “really concerning.”

“ASM asked the admin weeks ago about what would be the plan when the HEERF funds inevitably run out. They had no answer for us then, and it appears that they have no answer for us now,” he added.

How Much Aid Should Be Allocated to Students?

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While the federal government does have partial control over how some of the money is spent, colleges have a high degree of flexibility in how they choose to allocate it.

The Daily Cardinal reported that out of the $9.9 million provided by the federal fund, UW-Madison allocated 93 percent to around 18 percent of the student population. The extra $20 million, which has not been distributed to students, will be used to support departments such as Recreation and Wellbeing, and the Wisconsin Union.

Mitnick commented that these units have such poorly managed finances, “it is now falling on the backs of students.”

However, University Spokesperson Meredith McGlone told The Daily Cardinal that the Office of Student Financial Aid “is committed to working with students in identifying additional sources of emergency financial aid, ensuring that they are receiving all of the aid they qualify for.”

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