On March 27, 2020, the President of the United States signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The CARES Act contains a provision for a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Institutions of higher education that receive HEERF funds agree to use at least 50% of their allocation to “provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.” Thomas Nelson Community College has received CARES Act funds in the amount of $1,926,985.00* to provide Higher Education Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students** under Section 18004 (a)(1) of the CARES Act.
*Thomas Nelson will distribute $1,926,985, the amount designated to Thomas Nelson for Student Emergency Grants.
**1780 students were awarded one-time grants in the range of $1000-$1100.
Grants are being awarded for “the sole and exclusive purpose of providing emergency financial aid grants to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronaviruses, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses.”
Information for students, posted on the US Department of Education CARES Act website states:
The CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund-IHE/Student Aid provides funding to institutions to provide emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet. Students cannot apply for assistance directly from the U.S. Department of Education but should contact their institutions for further information and guidance. Institutions have the responsibility of determining how grants will be distributed to students, how the amount of each student grant is calculated, and the development of any instructions or directions that are provided to students about the grant. (Source US Department of Education, For more information, visit the DOE site: CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund).
What is the purpose of the Emergency Grant Aid?
These CARES Act funds were designated by the Secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, to be used by students “to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).”
Who is eligible for the Emergency Grant Aid?
Students who may be eligible for grant aid include those who were:
- Enrolled in at least six (6) financial aid-eligible credits in the Spring 2020 semester prior to March 13, 2020, and
- Enrolled in at least one face-to-face course, and
- Were Title IV funds-eligible based on information provided on the FAFSA
What is the process for determining who receives Emergency Grant Aid?
In an effort to distribute the CARES Act Emergency Grant Aid to students Thomas Nelson had to use specific eligibility requirements to support as many students as possible, and those with the greatest identifiable financial need. In addition to the basic eligibility requirements, the process for determining which students receive a grant, and the amount of each grant award, take into consideration:
- demonstrated financial need, and
- students’ independent or dependent status, and
- the US Department of Education formula for allocation, in that a larger percentage of each college’s allocation was based on Pell-recipient enrollment
This process for determining who receives Emergency Grant Aid is being managed by Thomas Nelson’s Office of Financial Aid.
How will I know if I am getting Emergency Grant Aid?
Funds will be sent automatically to each student who receives a grant, either by Direct Deposit, if that is already set up, or a paper check to the Mailing Address of record. Students who receive a grant will be notified in their Message Center in SIS.
Who decides if I get Emergency Grant Aid?
Eligibility has been determined based on criteria provided by the Department of Education.
How can I use the Emergency Grant Aid?
All students receiving CARES Act cash grants are advised to prioritize the use of these funds to cover expenses related to the campus closure made necessary by the COVID-19 emergency. Eligible expenses include those associated with your cost of attendance at college, including food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare.
Will these funds be taxed?
Students are advised that receipt of these grants may have tax implications. The IRS has issued an FAQ with regard to the HEERF and Emergency Financial Aid Grants under the CARES Act. Students are advised to review this information, and if you have questions, consult a tax professional.