WKU grants $2 million to 3,100 students so far from CARES Act funds

The rooms in Pearce-Ford Tower were lit up to honor WKU’s class of 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, commencement for WKU seniors was postponed until September.

Gabrielle Bunton

WKU has issued more than $2 million in direct aid to about 3,100 students under the federal CARES Act, President Timothy Caboni said Wednesday.

The money, part of $10.6 million that WKU received under the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, mostly went to offset food insecurity, housing expenses and education and technology costs, Caboni said.

“They are all three directly connected to the educational experience,” Caboni said. “If you’re hungry, you can’t learn. If you don’t have a roof over your head, you can’t learn. If you don’t have internet working, you can’t learn.”

Out of WKU’s $10.6 million, the CARES Act requires that half is dedicated to direct aid to students, who can still seek assistance from the university.

“We will continue to allocate money to students over the next several months to help students make it through the summer and to get back here in person,” Caboni said. “… We want, as a whole institution, for them to hear is that the most important thing for us is their health and their safety and their continuation toward a WKU degree.”

Much of the other $5.3 million, he said, also would wind up helping students in the form of refunds for housing and meals plans for the Spring 2020 semester.

Caboni said he expects about $300,000 to $400,000 to be available from the CARES Act money to help buy personal protective equipment that will be needed throughout the university when classes resume for the Fall 2020 semester.

He also said, after meeting earlier in the day with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, that he hopes more federal aid could be forthcoming to help defray the university’s costs dealing with the global pandemic.