The Mizzou Financial Aid Department notified eligible students that they would be receiving another round of COVID-19 emergency financial aid.
The aid was automatically applied to the accounts of students with an Estimated Family Contribution under $20,000. Students who have been struggling financially, such as Luci Conkling, see the aid as much-needed relief in the midst of the pandemic.
“I wasn't really expecting it,” Conkling said. “Money has been really tight for me recently, especially this last couple of months. With the weather being so cold, my utilities are higher, I'm not able to work as much because I'm back at school full time. So I felt this relief, like a weight off my shoulders.”
While some students were pleased to find out they received the emergency aid, others, like Oliva Evans, were disappointed in the shift to judging a student’s need based only on EFC.
“Using the EFC is very problematic for me,” Evans said. “For my personal financial situation, for example, my dad is unemployed, but my parents are taking money out of the 401k, just so they can pay their bills and do what they can. And then my mom is employed and she makes less than 60 grand a year. My mom's job barely makes more than what my EFC is.”
Evans explained that if her parents hadn’t used their retirement plan to make ends meet, she would qualify for more emergency assistance.
MU’s Financial Aid Department Executive Director, Emily Haynam, said that it had a finite amount of money to disperse and the EFC offered a way to determine the students with the most need in order to get aid out as fast as possible.
“We have to figure out parameters in order to spend the funds as effectively as we can to help the students that have demonstrated greater need,” Hayman said. “That's why we use the EFC because it is a federal fund. It is already a formula that's established. And it's very hard for us to get any other additional information that proves a student's circumstances or proves that a student is needier than what is demonstrated based upon the contribution.”
The university determined that students with an EFC below $12,000 would receive $1,000. For students with an EFC between $12,000 and $20,000, they will receive $700. Haynam noted that the department has a team dedicated to students with “special circumstances” who need help navigating the changes to their financial situation caused by COVID-19.