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Murray State students receive more federal money to use for food, fees and more

Murray State University

Students at Murray State University were gifted with an emergency grant last week funded by the American Rescue Plan Act passed in 2021. This marks the second time students have received grants from the legislation’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for this academic year. The fund is meant to serve students and ensure learning continues during the pandemic.

Students can receive awards ranging from $250 to $1500 depending on their student classification and/or their Estimated Family Contribution Score (EFC) from the 2021-2022 FAFSA. The funds are meant to cover expenses like food, housing, course materials, healthcare, and technology for class.

Students had the option to either send their gift aid, called the CARES III grant, to their student account to cover any charges to their student balance or receive the money directly to their bank accounts through direct deposit. Students who chose to add their grant funding to their student account will receive any leftover funds when Murray State University issues scholarship refunds for the spring semester.

Murray State students have been making their own decisions on how best to use their recently acquired aid. Some students plan to use their awards to cover costs for pursuing their major not usually covered by tuition.

Lucy Wilkinson, 22, is a music education major at Murray State. She said she plans to spend her grant money on covering the costs of exams required to receive her teaching certification.

“I am very blessed to receive this money to help with these expenses, as each one costs over $150 each. And for music, I have to take two.”

Likewise, other students are using it to cover the cost of individual classes that they have to take this semester.

20-year-old Savannah Richey, a music business major, is using her $250 award to pay for an online class she’s currently taking.

For 23-year-old Zac Boardman, also a music business major, he plans to spend his $250 award for the same purpose.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people who need the little bit of extra help for an extra online class like I had to have this semester,” Boardman said “It’s nice to have a little bit of assistance.”

Other students said their goal for the money was to cover the cost of tuition and pay for any outstanding fees on their student account.

Equine science major Makayla Back, 19, said she made sure to accept the CARES III grant every time it’s been offered. Back said she sent her award amount to her student account to cover the cost of this semester’s tuition.

Zackary Clagget, 19, is a television production major at Murray State. Clagget said he owed roughly around the same amount on his student account as his $1500 grant award, so he added the funding to his balance. Clagget said this is a chance for him to avoid taking out loans and lets him keep whatever money he makes over the summer.

“Getting the CARES [grant] is definitely a helpful thing,” Clagget said. “Especially for a lot of people who are going to college and don’t necessarily have all that much money”

Some students though are more focused on covering the day-to-day costs of living. With the grant, students have more money to put food on the table.

Music education major Grace Rittenhouse, 18, is using most of her $1500 to pay for food bills because she lives at home with family while attending college. 22-year-old Joseph Salter also chose to use his grant on buying groceries.

“I only got a very small amount, but I’m appreciative of the money,” Salter said. “It’s a nice gesture, and I’ll gladly take it.”

For students who didn’t need to cover any immediate costs of living, they plan to put the money into their savings for future uses.

Television production major Dylan Norton, 19, said he added his gift aid to his student account to cover any costs added to his balance but expects to see some of the cash back later when he gets his refund from the university in the spring.

“I plan to put a good amount of it into my savings,” Norton said. “I’m also going to go out on a limb and get me a good pair of shoes.”

For 19-year-old Jullian Morman, a creative writing major, he had some concerns at first about receiving the aid because he didn’t want to potentially take money away from future prospective students or underfunded programs. But after learning more about the grants, Morman said the money will go to a good place.

“I plan on putting the CARES [grant] into my savings,” Morman said. “I see it as a blessing and want to use it the way God wants me to.”

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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