Helios Education Foundation and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities have partnered for a $650,000 grant to assist students at UCF, USF and FIU with immediate financial need due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Helios-Florida Consortium COVID-19 Summer Completion Grant Initiative aims to increase the likelihood of on-time graduation for students who have not received CARES Act funds. Each of the three schools will receive $200,000 in funding, with up to $1,250 in individual awards available for eligible students. Across the universities, $50,000 will be used to cover operational costs for distribution.

“At a time of numerous challenges, we are pleased to offer students in Florida’s largest metropolitan regions grant support to ensure they remain enrolled during the summer and committed to degree completion,” says Vince Roig, founding chairman of the Helios Education Foundation. “This initiative will provide support for limited-income students who are in danger of reducing their course hours or not enrolling at all.”

Eligible students will be notified via their Knights email with a short application form where they can outline their financial need. Consortium members are using predictive analytics and pre-screening processes to identify these students, who are at risk of reduced course loads or opting out of the summer semester. Applications will be sent out over the period of disbursement, which begins the week of June 1 and closes at the end of July.

“A large cross section of learners at FIU, UCF and USF traditionally work full-time. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted local economies and increased unemployment throughout Florida, adversely impacting these students,” says Michael Preston, executive director of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. “About 55 percent of Pell Grant eligible students in the entire State University System of Florida are enrolled at FIU, UCF, and USF. We are grateful to Helios Education Foundation for their investment and support of our students during this unsettling time.”

The average cost for tuition and fees for six credit hours for students who are not eligible for the Pell Grant and enrolled during Summer 2020 is $1,250. Due to the pandemic and various financial aid distributions, UCF has pushed the tuition due date for Summer A, C and D courses to June 5. Tuition for the Summer B semester is due July 3. While the Helios-Florida Consortium grant may be distributed after these dates, the funds can still help students cover additional costs at this time.

In April, UCF received $25 million in aid from the federal CARES Act for students experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic. Disbursement for the CARES Act awards are expected to begin in June.