Statement from MPRCA's Team on Updates to Monmouth's CARES Act Grants to Students

default article imageOn May 26th and May 27th 2020, the MPRCA team prepared emails for Federal Pell Grant recipients and Pell eligible graduate students (“Pell eligible students”) to send to Monmouth’s CARES Act Grant team. In these emails, students inquired on their eligibility for CARES emergency relief aid and attached financial aid award letters of a student who did receive CARES aid and a student who did not. The CARES Act grant team responded to these emails, denying these Pell eligible students CARES aid with a justification that the students did not demonstrate “Unmet Need.”

On June 3rd—nine days after the initial email with correspondence with students, the MPRCA team sent a letter extensively outlining our deep concerns with Monmouth University’s use of an “Unmet Need” criteria which discriminates against the schools poorest students, with the most substantial need-based financial aid, to President Leahy. On this same day, the President responded and Monmouth amended its CARES Act grant eligibility on their website.

On June 4th at 10 a.m. EST, members of the MPRCA Team met virtually with Monmouth University President, Dr. Patrick Leahy. During this call, President Leahy expressed that using the “Unmet Need” criteria, 272 undergraduate Federal Pell recipients were denied emergency relief aid through the CARES Act. This number does not include low-income Pell eligible graduate students who were also denied aid. This number also includes over 55% (84 students total) of students in the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (“EOF”). President Leahy acknowledged that the use of the “Unmet Need” calculation was a result of his lack of oversight of the CARES Act Grant Team and took the blame for initially denying the schools poorest students, all of which are Pell eligible students, vital emergency relief aid through CARES. Further, he stated that after notification through the MPRCA team’s initial students emails, the eligibility criteria were amended to include all Pell recipients and Pell eligible graduate students. He disclosed to MPRCA, that the CARES Act Grant team is comprised of the University’s Vice President of Finance, Vice President for Enrollment, Director of Financial Aid, and Director of Community & Government Relations.

After discussion, President Leahy agreed to put together a one-page document addressing specific students concerns raised by MPRCA. The following questions and concerns were requested to be included in this document.

1. Statement acknowledging that the initial use of the “Unmet Need” criteria left Pell Grant recipients and Pell eligible graduate students ineligible for CARES Act emergency relief aid.

2. How was the University was informed that the “Unmet Need” calculation left out its lowest income students?

3. How have eligibility requirements for Monmouth Students to receive emergency relief aid though

CARES changed?

4. What is the distribution of the CARES emergency relief aid? (i.e. how many full- and part-time

undergraduate and graduate students are receiving aid including the factors which made them eligible.)

5. When will the Pell-eligible graduate students be emailed about their eligibility status for CARES emergency relief aid?

6. When did Monmouth receive its CARES Act grant award?

7. What pandemic related expenses is the University incurring?

8. How has Monmouth utilized its remaining $2.5 million in CARES aid not exclusively designated for direct student aid?

The President also agreed to publicize the above concerns and general information regarding the CARES Act funding to students in the same fashion used to promote the President’s Relief Fund.