Oklahoma Christian University students facing unemployment and other economic hardships as a result of the coronavirus outbreak could soon receive emergency cash payments.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Thursday, April 9, the release of nearly $7 billion for colleges and universities suffering financially due to COVID-19. Private nonprofit schools like Oklahoma Christian will receive $1.2 billion.
Congress set aside the $14 billion for higher education in the CARES Act passed late last month, but colleges and universities had been waiting for official guidance on when the money would arrive and how it must be spent. DeVos said information on the second wave of payments will be made available in the coming weeks.
Colleges and universities must send at least 50% of the funds they receive directly to students. Administrators may set their own criteria for who does and does not receive payments, but are urged to prioritize Pell grant recipients and other low income students.
“We are prioritizing this funding stream in order to get money in the hands of students in need as quickly as possible,” DeVos said Thursday in a letter to college and university presidents.
The announcement came as the IRS prepared to send out billions of dollars in direct payments to American families affected by the coronavirus. Many college students, claimed as dependents by their parents, are not eligible for stimulus checks under the CARES Act.
Oklahoma Christian will receive $1,619,172, with $809,586 of this total earmarked specifically for students. As of fall 2018, the most recent enrollment numbers available, Oklahoma Christian has 1,948 undergraduate and 348 graduate students.