The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting effect on everyone over the past two years. March 2020 seems like a lifetime ago and so much has happened in the 24 months since then, between the loss of close ones, decisions on working in person or remotely, and so much more.
For some Bridgewater State University students, they are still in the process of recovering from the pandemic and the university has been very understanding of students still in this position. The Bears have been committed to helping those financially impacted by COVID-19 and have been doing so ever since the start of the 2020-21 school year with the creation of the “BSU Cares Act.”
Through the United States government, BSU was allocated over $8.5 million for the first half of 2021, with over $4 million of that money going towards the Cares Act and students in need. At the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year, BSU gave out just under $10 million dollars to those in need. The Cares Act was not a first-come, first-served basis, as those who were in the greatest financial need would receive priority over others.
Students were able to use this money for books and needs from the BSU bookstore. Those who lived off campus were able to use the funds toward housing payments not paid through the university as well. Students living on campus were not able to use the grant funds toward tuition but were still able to find financial relief in other areas. The success of this act during the school year allowed for a return in the 2021-22 school year, especially with many students returning to campus after learning remotely for the past year and a half.
The U.S. government continued to distribute money to BSU for the new school year with $7 million becoming available to students across the community. Bears on campus were seen buying books and other needs in the school store with their Cares Act money. Students using the money towards books had the choice of picking a $250 or $500 grant depending on the cost of their books for the semester. Extra money remaining from the purchase of books would be added to students’ financial aid accounts so that the students don’t lose any money that they applied for.
Nearly 10,000 students have been affected in a positive way by the Emergency Aid Grants, including the 4,500 students at BSU as of Dec. 31, 2021. This number is expected to grow as the 2022 school year wraps up and students are still recovering from the pandemic. The status of whether or not the Cares Act will be available next year is yet to be decided with the summer months on the horizon.
Colleges across New England have also been granted money from the United States government to help students in their own communities. These universities helping their students is a delightful thing to see as everyone’s situation is different.
BSU and other colleges will wrap up the Cares Act at the end of the year as COVID-19 seems to be taking a backseat and things return to a kind of normalcy. The plan that BSU made along with other schools across the country has saved thousands of students in times of need. This model of financial aid and school assistance will be a model for years to come in times of need.