Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Higher
Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education (ED) has worked to assist students and institutions during this time of change, closures and transitioning to online learning. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) that provides more than $14 billion in emergency funding to higher education. Of those funds, more than $6 billion must go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants (HEERF-student share) for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Mesalands Community College received a total of $198,978 in which $99,489 must go directly to students; and the remaining $99,489 going to the institution to be used to offset the unexpected expenses associated with the transition into online learning.
Since the funding was announced, we have we have received various updated guidance on how the funding is to be spent and distributed. In the last several weeks the financial aid office and business office have worked diligently to determine which of our students will qualify.
As per the Department of Education (ED), the following criteria determines which students qualify:
- HEERF funds are not Title IV Aid, but Title IV Eligibility is Required
- While HEERF-student share dollars are not Title IV aid, ED’s April 21 guidance states that students must meet Title IV eligibility requirements in order to receive HEERF emergency grants. Students must have completed a FAFSA to determine eligibility and completed all verification requirements.
- Expense vs. Need
- HEERF-student share dollars are to aid students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus; this is different than a change in a student’s financial need due to COVID-19, which could be a result of a loss of income rather than new expenses.
- Direct to Students
- Institutions must pay HEERF-student share emergency grants directly to students and may not apply the grants toward outstanding institutional charges.
- Online Students
- Students who were enrolled exclusively in online courses on March 13 (the date of President Trump’s national emergency proclamation) are not eligible for HEERF-student share funds, per ED’s April 21 guidance.
- International and Undocumented Students
- ED’s April 21 guidance states that students must meet Title IV eligibility requirements in order to receive HEERF-student share funds. Therefore, international and undocumented students are not eligible to receive emergency grants.
To determine eligibility for Mesalands Community College students the following was reviewed:
- Students enrolled in the Spring 2020 semester prior to March 13th .
- Title IV eligible students
- Evaluation of student’s schedules, to determine who was enrolled in courses online only
- Students attending full time (12 credit hours or more)
- Students attending half-time to three-quarter time (6-11 credit hours)
It was determined that Mesalands has 109 eligible students for the Spring 2020 semester. Students attending full-time (12 credit hours or more) will receive $945.00 and students attending half to three quarter time (6-11 credit hours) will receive $652.00. Checks have been mailed to students as of Friday, May 15th (close of business day). Student funds were distributed to students as per guidance from the Department of Education.