By Stefan Gellar
LOWELL — The University of Massachusetts Lowell will give at least $13.7 million in American Rescue Plan relief funds to students facing food insecurity, homelessness or other financial hardships, university officials highlighted on Monday.
“It feels like the government is working,” said Congresswoman Lori Trahan, who voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan in March. “We know that students are struggling and it is rewarding to know that we are able to prioritize the right things and lead with our values in terms of making sure the money goes to the right places.”
Trahan announced in late May that colleges and universities in Massachusetts’ Third Congressional District were being awarded $81,819,954 in emergency funding under the plan, $27,551,474 of which would go to UMass Lowell.
Trahan noted that the money was secured for the schools on the condition that at least half of it would be distributed directly to students in need, in the form of emergency cash assistance grants.
In total, the American Rescue Plan allocated $36 billion for nearly 3,500 public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities nationwide, according to Trahan.
On Monday, Trahan joined City Manager Eileen Donoghue, UMass President Marty Meehan, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and other UMass Lowell leaders for a briefing on how the university intends to put the funds to use.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Julie Nash told The Sun that the University will identify the students who will receive the money by utilizing information gathered by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as well as its previously established student emergency fund. She estimated that the students will each receive between $1,000 and $2,000.
Nash also said that the money not going directly to the students will be spent on things such as stipends for teachers to develop their own textbooks, and service programs that involve partnering with local organizations to offer paid work studies.
“Students at more prestigious institutions can afford to do a free internship and get that line on their resumes, but our students can’t afford that,” Nash said. “So we’re hoping to use some of this money to reach out to donors to actually pay students to do volunteer work in the Lowell community and at nonprofits and government, so they can get out there and get their experience.”
Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development Julie Chen also said during the briefing that the funding will help “build momentum” for the Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy.
“The American Rescue Plan funding for institutions of higher education was designed to bolster efforts to keep students safe and on track in their education. Today’s briefing showed just how integral that relief has been in those efforts at UMass Lowell and across the UMass system,” Trahan said. “I’m grateful to President Meehan and Chancellor Moloney for their commitment to ensuring that this federal investment is going to those who need help the most – the students.”