Student employees may be eligible for financial reimbursement

Student workers left with reduced hours or unemployed due to safety issues concerning COVID-19 will receive compensation for lost wages as a part of a relief bill passed by Congress.

About $9 million will be given to Marshall University under the CARES Act, Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, by the Department of Education, 50% of which must be used in emergency grants for students, said Mark Robinson, senior vice president of finance for Marshall.

Student workers who have not received a paycheck or have been paid less than what they previously averaged will receive some compensation based from the Feb. 28 to April 10 pay period, Robinson said.

“Depending on how much all the other credits are and how much money we have left out of the grant to do it will determine those amounts, but the president certainly wants to do something we just don’t know who and how much at this point,” he said.

The funds are set to arrive next week, and Robinson said they will be distributed to students as soon as they can articulate how the funds are distributed and understand and account for any caveats, which may be towards the end of April.

Those caveats, as well as how the funds will be distributed, are unknown because there has not been strong communication of guidelines by the Department of Education as to how these funds can be distributed, which has led to some frustration, he said.

“We were thinking about doing these grants right away as soon as we could, but we would not be reimbursed if we used our own money, which I thought was strange,” Robinson said.

One possible caveat is the concern of how these funds will affect athletes due to NCAA regulations, but there has yet to be clarification, he said.

“I wouldn’t want to send money to a student to make them ineligible, when we get back to normal, when they got an emergency grant, they weren’t really allowed to get due to caveats,” Robinson said.

Following a call with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Robinson said he learned the funds will be distributed to student workers based on a formula tied to their Pell Grant, which a large percentage of Marshall students benefit from, he said.

“We want to try and help the students,” Robinson said. “It’s hard enough these days being a student, partially with our clientele where we have a large percentage of Pell recipients that they need it. We are trying to work as hard as we can to get the money in the hands of the students.”

Ralph May can be contacted at [email protected].