At the Oct. 8 Board of Regents meeting, the approval for the allocation of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III money to students ranging from $250-$1,100 per student was passed. International and online students are now included in the distribution of these funds for the first time since the funds started in spring 2021.
Students will be placed into three tiers of eligibility for HEERF funding. The first tier is offering undergraduate, Pell grant eligible students $1,100. The next tier is for undergraduate students with an estimated family contribution under $30,000 to be given $500. The final tier is for undergraduate students with an EFC of more than $30,000, online graduate students or international students to receive $250.
The Board of Regents meeting was called before the originally planned meeting for Oct. 29 because some questions were raised about who the allocation of the funds were going to.
“I’m surprised they would allow federal money for international students. I guess that’s the only part of the tiering that you’ve mentioned that gives me a little bit of thought,” John Moore said.
Mary Collins, assistant vice president of finance and controller, made the proposal to the Board of Regents, and said the decision to allow international students these funds was one the federal government made for this specific round.
This was a highly debated topic and that it has been in the works since the first HEERF funds were given out, Collins said. Though the decision to allow international students was up to each individual university, Northwest thought it was best to include them in this semester's funding.
“The international students are our students here on campus and they do have needs,” Collins said. “We get requests and questions about this all the time from them about the potential of helping them. For us, it felt like an outreach to them to be included and that we are taking care of all our students across campus."
Northwest Director of Financial Assistance Charles Mayfield said there was internal conversation when it came to having Northwest include international students in this round of funding.
When international students apply for admission, they turn in paperwork that says they can afford to be at Northwest.
“That’s the reason they end up in the lowest tier, because on paper they look the same as a domestic student who has no financial need,” Mayfield said.
Regent Jason Klindt was the only regent to vote against this proposal for the funding.
“I’m going to vote against the program because I think that it's inappropriate to give taxpayer dollars to individuals from foreign countries,” Klindt said.
Student Regent Connor Thompson disagreed.
“I think this is great. I love giving some of our international students and some of our online students money to help them out because we all know this has been a rough year,” Thompson said.
Despite the controversy surrounding including international students into HEERF money given to students, the Board of Regents approved the plan 6-1 and money will be rolling out to students Oct. 11.