An investigation into one university’s use of COVID stimulus monies as direct payments to students has been closed by the Department of education.

Other higher education institutions will be able to use federal COVID relief monies as cash grants to students jobs now that the legal approval has been granted.

According to the federal education department, Morehouse School of Medicine can use funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of March 2020 to deliver monies directly to students. Federal officials were supposed to investigate the Atlanta university’s cash payments scheme in January, but that didn’t happen.

They agreed we have a very sound process,” President Valerie Rice told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution the week before Christmas. “Students will receive a minimum of $4,800 and a maximum of $6,300, school officials said.”

Morehouse University, which is not affiliated with Morehouse College, did not respond to queries from The College Fix about the investigation or what legal authority it had to utilize the funds in the manner it did. The Fix was directed to the Journal-Constitution piece by the university.

President Rice previously said the grants were meant to “assist each of our currently enrolled, degree-seeking students with additional academic, financial, and mental health medical assistant jobs support costs such as childcare, food, transportation, housing and healthcare needs.”

If the semester is disrupted and students must leave campus, the education department standards specify that money can be utilized as a refund for “room and board, tuition, and other costs.” Money can be utilized to compensate and smooth a transition during a “disruption of campus operations,” according to another provision.

“[A]dditional emergency financial aid grants to students [are allowed], provided that such emergency financial aid grants are for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care),” a frequently asked questions page states.

COVID relief money has been used as cash presented to students at other universities, including Meharry Medical College. Each of Meharry’s students received $10,000 in cash from the school’s authorities. If there had been an examination into its usage of taxpayer cash as presents to students, the media relations staff did not respond to College Fix’s questions.

One student expressed gratitude for receiving the funds, which were intended to be used to pay off student loan debt, because the $10,000 could now be spent for whatever, including “personal delight.” “It’s motivating,” Andreas Nelson told Kaiser Health News. “Because that means they have trust in us to do with this money whatever the cause may be — whether it be student debt, investing or just personal enjoyment.” Students at the university graduate with more than $280,000 in loan debt.

Source: The College Fix

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