COVID-19 & Financial Aid
We know and understand that there might be challenges in the coming weeks and we hope to ease those to the extent possible. Please email SFS with any questions or concerns and we will help you navigate through this difficult time.
All functions of SFS will be online and will remain intact. Financial aid applications will be processed in the same manner and time as in previous years. The process of disbursing financial aid to student accounts will continue.
Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Disbursement Emails
sent an email yesterday from Julie Wickstrom, the Chief Financial Aid Officer at Boston University. Since this email went to all eligible undergraduate and graduate students at Boston University, it came from the central BU Financial Assistance office, rather than from our office. A second email was also sent from Chase Bank indicating that Boston University has sent you a payment.
These funds are part of the COVID Relief Bill (CRRSAA), signed into law late last year. More on the bill and BU’s distribution to students is described in this BU Today article released Friday, March 12, 2021. This funding is in addition to the direct stimulus payments you could be eligible for, based on your IRS-calculated eligibility. This grant fund is separate from that disbursement. No repayment is necessary.
Since there was no application process for these funds, we understand some students have been unsure if these notifications were legitimate. We’re glad to see that you are applying IT best practices to identify potential phishing emails. We can confirm the two specific emails about the HEERF Grant from BU Financial Assistance and Chase Bank are not spam. Please follow the instructions in these emails to access your eligible HEERF funds.
Appointments with SFS Staff
All appointments will be conducted online via Zoom or by telephone in order to ensure social distancing. If we meet via Zoom, feel free to invite anyone helping you with college expenses to join us.
We also offer weekly “drop-in” hours via Zoom, based on your school/college. You will be discuss any financial aid inquires you may have.
If you can’t make our weekly drop-in hours, please email us, based on your school/college, to set up an appointment with one of our counseling staff.
Visit our Contact Us page for more information.
Federal Financial Aid Updates
We continue to receive updated guidance from the University and US Department of Education. In general, students must participate in online courses and maintain satisfactory academic progress to receive financial aid.
Federal Direct Loans
All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% until January 31, 2021. In addition, each of these borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. This will allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest.
For all Federal Direct loans, after you graduate you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. Learn more about repaying your loan. To learn more about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), visit StudentAid.gov/publicservice. To learn more about income-driven repayment, visit StudentAid.gov/idr.
Federal Work Study
The US Department of Education released guidance that gives schools the option to pay students who received a Federal Work-Study Award as part of their financial aid, even if they are unable to continue working due to COVID19. Since most BU work-study students will be unable to work during the remaining weeks of the spring semester, the University will be disbursing the remaining funds to students who were working during the spring semester. In April, BU paid out the remainder of your award in one lump sum.
Federal legislation was passed (Public Law No: 116-128) allowing the VA to continue paying in-person housing allowance rates through December 21, 2020 for classes that were originally designated as residence (i.e. on campus) but move to remote learning due to COVID-19. As long as students enroll in courses that are designated as “on campus” there will be no impact on housing allowance payments that the VA otherwise determines a student is eligible to receive. This means that all standard VA housing allowance requirements, such as greater than half-time enrollment, must still be maintained. As a reminder, Boston University Veterans Services is the liaison between the VA and the University, and the VA is the only institution that can verify payment amounts and disbursement dates. Please direct any VA-related inquiries to email@example.com.
Institutional Financial Aid Updates
For BU need-based loans, repayment beings 12 months after you graduate. The Student Loan Interest Freeze only applies, at this time, to loans that are directly held by the Department of Education. Your BU Perkins/HPSL/PCL and Institutional Loans are not held by the Department of Education. Therefore, BU is unable to freeze interest accruing on your loans without applying a deferment. If you are experiencing financial hardship during this emergency, please contact Student Loan Accounting.
Unfortunately, for private loans there aren’t as many options. If you have a private loan and if you can’t afford your payments call your lender and see what they can offer. Click here for more details regarding Massachusetts’ involvement in a multi-state, student loan relief initiative. The initiative involves a 90-day forbearance, interest/fee waiving, prohibiting negative credit reporting and connecting students with resources.
May 8th was the deadline for students to apply for emergency funding under the federal CARES Act to offset unexpected financial problems caused by the campus shutdown and COVID-19 emergency. After May 8th, students are no longer eligible for the CARES emergency funding.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting students in many ways and may be creating concerns about your financial aid. To discuss any financial concerns related to COVID-19 please contact OSFS@bu.edu summarizing your circumstances. SFS will help you navigate the potential options available through Federal, Institutional and Credit-Based student loan programs.
We realize that uncertainty about the future is stressful. Appeals can be submitted based on changes in financial circumstances.