Letter to the Editor: How Stanford is handling financial aid without CARES Act funds

Opinion by Karen Cooper
April 28, 2020, 7:55 p.m.

Many students at Stanford are facing hardships because of the pandemic. We want them and their families to have the peace of mind that we are fully committed to the financial support that will help them continue their education amidst these unprecedented times.

In reference to the column “Preserving the promise of the CARES Act” published in The Daily on April 24, I want to spotlight some specific ways the University is fulfilling that commitment.

• We have adjusted spring undergraduate aid packages to reflect students’ new living situations. For all students on aid, we have factored in a minimum of $2,000 for off-campus living expenses, including food costs while living at home.

• Financial aid packages are being increased for students who, after leaving campus, have had to pay rent for off-campus lodging.

• All students whose aid packages included job expectations will instead receive scholarship funds for spring quarter.

• The summer earnings expectation will be waived for all new incoming students and continuing undergraduates for summer 2020.

• Undergraduates on financial aid had the option to purchase plane tickets — paid upfront by the University — to travel home. Students not able to take advantage of that option were supported with travel stipends.

• Support for all graduate assistantships is being sustained for spring quarter.

• Emergency grant-in-aid funds are being expanded to help support graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who are facing financial hardships resulting from the pandemic.

• We are covering the costs of acceptable internet access and computer equipment when this is a financial hardship for students who have left campus.

• This assistance applies to all students, including undocumented and DACA students as well as U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

While Stanford declined funding from Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund section of the CARES Act, we will be spending at least as much on emergency financial aid as the $3.7 million formula allocation designated in the act. In fact, to date, our expenses for all of these student supports have totaled more than $5 million.

Like all higher education institutions across the country, Stanford is facing significant financial pressures. We are experiencing significant losses to revenue and increased costs, and the market downturn has had a substantial impact on our endowment. However, financial aid remains a strong priority at Stanford. Our need-based undergraduate aid program, which supports students without loans, puts our students at a distinct advantage over their peers at most other institutions in the United States.

Stanford remains fully committed to providing the financial aid that has already been promised to our students. We expect these needs to continue and even to increase. We will continue to work with students — especially those with the greatest needs — to provide financial assistance and other means of support that will help them continue their educational pursuits.


Karen Cooper
Associate dean and director of financial aid

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