Bergstrom: Changing the face of U.S currency

(Emerald Archives)

 

After seeing his family over spring break, Noah Holmes, a senior at the University of Oregon, was exposed to COVID-19 — along with his roommates. Two weeks after applying for the University of Oregon’s Quarantine Fund, Holmes said he received around $350 in April and became one of more than 6,000 students with financial assistance from the program.

Extra costs from Amazon Fresh Grocery deliveries, Postmates and cleaning supplies piled up, so Holmes said he was grateful to have a resource that helped him save money. 

“Over those two weeks, I bought groceries, did other things, and I feel like those funds really went back into my bank account,” he said.

UO released its COVID-19 Quarantine Fund Application on March 26. The Quarantine Fund is available to all UO students accumulating quarantine-related expenses, including hotel rooms, Airbnbs and food delivery services, until early June. 

The university received an additional $8,047,973 last December through the CARES Act under the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The federal government signed the act into law last year, allocating nearly $82 billion to schools across the country in support of education, according to the U.S. Department of Education.  

This month, 2,916 awards totaling around $2 million of just the Quarantine Fund have been given out to students, said UO spokesperson Saul Hubbard. Meanwhile, the university recorded over 6,000 students who received financial aid; it has dispersed over $6 million of these funds, according to the UO Financial Aid and Scholarship page. Because financial aid is limited to which funds are available, the university has encouraged students experiencing COVID-19 and isolation to apply before the deadline on June 11, 2021.  

Holmes said he felt lucky to have quarantined at home in Eugene because it saved him from spending hundreds of dollars on a hotel room. At the bottom of the Quarantine Fund application, it requires students to upload proof of receipts and documents showing living expenditures, according to Holmes.

Though it’s been a useful financial resource for Holmes, he believes not all students are aware of the Quarantine Fund. 

“I heard about it through word-of-mouth,” he said. Holmes said that the first thing he would tell his friends is to look for the Quarantine Fund to cover what they spend on groceries during the pandemic. “I don't think a lot of people know about it, so that's why I was the one telling a lot of people, ‘I used this and you should use it too,’” he said.

UO’s Financial Aid and Scholarship website offers a Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act Grant, which automatically allocates $500 to $900 to students who are eligible based on their FAFSA this spring. The university recommends that students also fill out the FAFSA application for the CARES Act Grant application and other financial aid opportunities.