UT-Austin to release roughly $51 million to students during the 2021-22 school year

Sheryl‌ ‌Lawrence‌ ‌

UT-Austin released over $21 million in federal funds to students at the beginning of September, the first round of funds undocumented and international students could receive. 

Brian Dixon, associate vice provost of student aid and affordability, said the University has roughly $51 million to distribute to students between the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters with a little under $9 million leftover last spring from the Higher Education Emergency Fund. As of Sept. 10, the University has dispersed 42% of funds to about 25,000 students, Dixon said.

Cesar Sepulveda, a Mexican American studies junior said he struggles with finances as an undocumented student ineligible for most federal loans, including the first two rounds of HEERF funding. Over Labor Day weekend, he learned he would get $1,000 in aid.

“I think the people that didn’t get it these last few times should have got more,” Sepulveda said. “But, you know, I’m just happy I got something.” 

Sepulveda works 55 hours a week while studying as a full-time student. He plans to use the aid to pay rent.

“It was a big surprise,” Sepulveda said. “I was trying to get loans, but it’s kind of impossible because I’m (a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program).”

The U.S. Department of Education announced in July it would provide $3.2 billion to universities around the country under HEERF, including $43 million to distribute to students and $43 million for institutional use and support, according to the University website. The University also received roughly $31 million in HEERF money in both April 2020 and March 2021.

At the beginning of October, the University will open an application process for students who did not receive funds from the block grants released at the beginning of September, Dixon said.

Sepulveda said even though he has lived in Austin for 17 years, he is still considered an international student and does not receive much financial support from UT.

“We’re called aliens in the United States,” Sepulveda said. “We don’t feel at home. And for UT to not give us enough financial support really sucks. Most of us are considered international students, even though we’ve been here most of our lives.”