CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund
04/28/2021 Update: On December 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) (P.L. 116-260). CRRSAA authorizes eligibility for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) II for students exclusively enrolled in distance education. This expanded eligibility applies to both new funds under the CRRSAA (HEERF II funds) and any leftover funds under the CARES Act (HEERF I funds).
On May 11, 2021 the Department of Education released updated guidance regarding student eligibility for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III that more broadly defines “student” as any individual who is or was enrolled at an eligible institution on or after March 13, 2020, the date of the declared national state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus. General eligibility for Title IV Federal Student Aid was eliminated and students are no longer required to be Title IV eligible to receive HEERF grant assistance.
Students who demonstrate exceptional financial need are prioritized as recipients for assistance from the emergency grant program. While a FAFSA is no longer required, it remains a highly practical indicator of student financial need and is therefore highly encouraged.
The Department of Education’s May 14, 2021 final rule further establishes eligibility for permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, and other DREAMers (inclusive of undocumented students). International students may qualify for funding, however the Department of Education encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students with an emphasis on students with exceptional need.
How to Apply
Regent University offices work collaboratively to identify high need students and provide emergency grant assistance to them with no additional application steps required. Students with uniquely extenuating financial need who are interested in learning more about CARES Emergency Relief funding should contact the Student Financial Aid Office by email and provide a written summary of their financial circumstances. Qualifying students who wish to apply for additional funding will be provided with further application steps, which generally include supporting documentation of their financial circumstances, along with submission of current aid year FAFSA.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I file a FAFSA? The FAFSA can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Please visit our full Steps to Aid page for more information. Students must successfully resolve any documentation requirements resulting from their FAFSA in order to establish their eligibility for Title IV aid. This requirement must be met to qualify for CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund assistance.
Do online or international students qualify for CARES funds?
The Department of Education has issued guidance allowing online and certain international students to qualify for CARES Act Emergency Relief funding.
Can students failing Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) qualify for CARES funds?
Students who are not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards (SAP) are no longer precluded from assistance from the CARES Act Emergency Relief program.
What should I do if I have lost income due to COVID-19?
Undergraduate FAFSA filers who do not have a zero expected family contribution (EFC) should contact the Academic Advising Office to discuss eligibility for Special Consideration. Special Consideration exists to allow Student Financial Aid Officers to work with students experiencing unique financial challenges to adjust their FAFSA information to represent their current financial standing. Graduate and undergraduate students experiencing higher than expected costs associated with attending school may qualify for a cost of attendance adjustment through the special consideration process.
Regent University created a fully digital CARES Grant application and notified all eligible students of the application process in May of 2020. The application form also provided eligible students with an option to notify the Student Financial Aid Office of loss of income, if the student’s FAFSA and enrollment level positioned them to qualify for need based assistance as a result of an income loss. CARES grant award amounts were determined based on qualifying expenses provided by the student within the application.
In addition to the student application process, Regent University provided batch award payments to federal aid eligible students who were required to vacate university housing in advance of the expected semester end due to COVID. Student award amounts were determined, in part, based on student expected family contributions (EFC) as well as the student’s prior housing status. Residential adult learners were provided grant funding of $1,500 to assist in covering the cost of obtaining off campus housing, inclusive of security deposit and first month’s rent. Students expected to travel home due to the closure were granted $450 to cover transportation expenses. Eligible students who vacated housing between Thanksgiving and Christmas were granted awards of $171.50 to assist with costs associated with the housing disruption.
Availability of grant funding was posted to the Regent University website and student’s meeting the Department of Education defined eligibility criteria were sent direct notifications via text message and email to apply. Recipients of batch awards were notified via email of award amounts and provided the link to additional information, including how to apply for more funding and the special consideration process if they experienced a loss of income.