CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds - Student Portion

In March 2020 the federal government passed the Cares Act which established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) for the purposes of assisting higher education institutions and enrolled students during the unprecedented crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  The CARES Act provides a variety of financial assistance programs that was assigned to both institutional infrastructure AND enrolled students.  Cal Lutheran was initially allocated a total of $3,451,376 of which 50% ($1,725,688) was designated for institutional support and 50% ($1,725,688) was directed for student assistance.

One of the requirements of the CARES Act is that schools must periodically report on the expenditure of the student portion of the funds.  Below are the first periodic report’s required information and Cal Lutheran's response to date.

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned the certification and agreement form and that the institution has used, or intends to use the funds to provide the mandated amount of at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students.
    Cal Lutheran University acknowledges that our institution was provided $1,725,688 to distribute directly to students who incurred expenses related to disruptions of campus operations due to the coronavirus.  The institution signed and returned our certification and agreement form on April 14, 2020.  We intend to disburse 100% of the student aid allocation as quickly as possible to eligible students. 
  2. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive, or has received under the HEERF student portion.
    California Lutheran University received $1,725,688 HEER funds for purposes of paying students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
  3. Of those funds, the total amount that has been distributed to students as of the date of reporting (1.e. the first 30-day deadline, and then every 45 days thereafter).
    As of May 13, 2020 the institution has awarded $ 0.00  Students have been notified of the program and given access to complete applications to request funds.  Staff are reviewing submitted applications and processing payments to be delivered shortly.
  4. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and therefore eligible to receive an emergency financial aid grant.
    The institution estimates there were 2,897 students eligible to participate in the program.
  5. The total number of students who have received an emergency financial aid grant.
    As of May 13, 2020, no students have been awarded HEER funds.  Communication was sent to students on May 9, 2020 and applications are being reviewed for payments.
  6. How the institution determined which students did, or will receive emergency financial aid grants and how much funding they did, or will receive.
    Adhering, to the best of our ability given the vague and delayed guidelines, the institution:
    1. Chose to use an application process for students to request the funds.
    2. The school used guidelines as of May 9, 2020 to identify eligible students (Title IV eligible (complete eligible FAFSA on file); not enrolled in an exclusively online program as of March 13, 2020).
    3. We created an electronic application accessible only to eligible Cal Lutheran students and sent an invitation to 2,897 enrolled students to submit the application.
    4. We set a cap of $1,000 on the requested amount of claimed costs. We set the cap to maximize our ability to help as many of our students as possible.
    5. CLU only opened the application process on May 9, 2020. Applications and payments will be processed as they are reviewed.  The school will continue to disburse funding until 100% of our allocation is expended.
    6. Currently, no specific percentage of the total funds was set aside for any specific purpose. However, the institution will reevaluate our expenditure plan and fund usage as necessary.  We will adjust communications and opportunities for disbursing the funds as results of initial outreach become clearer over time.
  7. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the emergency financial aid grants.
    The institution provided the following information:
    1. Sent an email on May 9, 2020 to selected eligible students that:
      1. Described the CARES Act HEERF – Student Portion’s purpose and limitations
      2. Included an electronic link to the application itself
      3. Provided instructions on how to complete the application
        1. Allowable requests for expenses incurred
        2. Example of ineligible requests
      4. Provided contact information for additional questions or concerns
    2. Created an application for students to request a portion of the funds
      1. Maximum request per student is $1,000
      2. Students identify category of cost origination (meals, child care, moving expenses, travel, education related, etc.)
      3. Students identify the amount requested per above listed category
      4. Students must provide brief explanation for each request (ensuring it was a cost and not a loss of income, for example)
      5. Students must sign and date their application
    3. In addition to the email a pop-up notice was automatically placed on each eligible student’s personal online portal. It is a repeating message with a summary of the Act and a link to the application.  Students must acknowledge they read this message for it to be removed from their portal.
    4. The institution shared the information on the student portion of the CARES Act via a campus-wide webinar on May 12, 2020.
    5. Various staff in institutional departments are aware of the program’s purpose and available to answer questions as well as forward the application to any eligible student we may have inadvertently overlooked.