CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds - Student Portion 

Updated: October 2020

 

Quarterly Report, Sep. 30, 2020

 

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 is the final required report that includes information on the expenditure of allocated funds.  All allocated student funds were expended in August 2020, therefore no further updates are required on this portion of the HEERF funds. 

  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 developed plans 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 (i.e. the first 30-day deadline, and then every 45 days thereafter).
    As of August 13, 2020 the institution has awarded $ 1,725,688.  100% of the allocated funds have been distributed. 
  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 August 13, 2020, 1,809 students have been awarded HEER funds.  
  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 provided by the Department, the institution:
    1. Adopted two primary methods to disburse funds to eligible students.  The first was an application process for students to request the funds.  A second method, develped with encouragement from the Department of Education to assist financially needier students was also developed. Thorugh the second method, students were identified according to need eligibility as determined by  an eligible FAFSA, were not enrolled in an exclusively online program, and enrolled at the time the school operations were disrupted.  In addition a small amount was used to help select students with extensive travel costs or additional educational related supplies and equipment.   
    2. The school used guidelines as of May 9, 2020 (and subsequently updated by the Department) 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. The school also identified students, based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined by a complete and eligible 2019-2020 FAFSA submission.  The school did not rely strictly on 'pell eligibility' but did identify students with EFC's less than $8,457.  In this way, we assisted financially needy graduate and undergraduate students.  The identified students were provided up to $1,000 in assistance funds.  In addition to EFC, the institution took into acocunt projected costs students may have incurred as a result of campus disruptions due to the Coronavirus.  These projected expenses include but were not limited to: 
      1. Computer repair
      2. Printer and printer ink
      3. Other technology equipment necessary to successfully complete online courses in unexpected environments (headphones, cameras, etc.)
      4. Internet access
      5. Increased utility or meal expenses
      6. Books and course supplies or materials
      7. Travel and moving expenses
    5. 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. 
    6. CLU opened the application process on May 9, 2020. Applications and payments will be processed as they are reviewed.  The school continued to disburse funding until 100% of our allocation was expended.
    7. Communications and spending was adjusted as needs of students and efficiency of distribution became cleaer over time and/or further guidance was received.
  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. Notifed that funds were limited 
      5. 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. Provided emails to students who were selected for the assistance through our automatic grant process the school selected recipients on June 19th, June 23rd, August 4th, and August 13th.  Students fell into two groups, those who received grants for the first time, and those whose assistance was increased to account for the school selection process. 
    6. Various staff in institutional departments are aware of the program’s purpose and available to answer questions as well as forward the application or assist students with uniqiue cost situations that may have been overlooked with our two primary approaches. 
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