CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Grant for Students
On March 13, 2020, a national emergency was declared due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In response, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Among other provisions, the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”). On April 30, 2020, Suffolk University signed and submitted to the United States Department of Education (“Department”) the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, required of all institutions participating in the HEERF.
As required by the CARES Act, the University will make available no less than fifty percent of the HEERF funds that it receives to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to eligible students to assist with covering expenses incurred after March 13, 2020 that are related to the disruptions of campus operations due to COVID-19. Under the CARES Act, eligible students may receive HEERF Emergency Financial Aid Grants (“HEERF Grants”) to cover such expenses as, for example, food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care, and other expenses that are related to campus disruptions due to COVID-19 (“Eligible Expenses”).
As of 9/29/20, Suffolk University had approximately $835,684 in HEERF student funds available for distribution. Given ongoing disruptions to normal campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic anticipated for the fall 2020 semester, students who meet the following criteria will be considered for CARES Act grants:
- Suffolk University students enrolled in an academic program approved to participate in Title IV programs as of September 29 2020, except those enrolled in a program offered exclusively on-line (our graduate SBS programs and the certificate in Disability Studies). Based on data obtained from the University Registrar’s Office, there were 6558 students who met this first set of criteria.
- Of the group outlined above, 4217students have a processed FAFSA for the 2020-21 academic year on file with the University. Students who were not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements or who had not submitted required documents to establish Title IV eligibility were then eliminated from the pool. A group of 4188 students remained eligible for HEERF consideration.
To prioritize the students with the greatest need as recommended in the Secretary’s letter, the group potentially eligible for HEERF funds were separated into two sections: Federal Pell Grant eligible students (1099 students) and all others (3089 students). Based on the pool of HEERF available funds designated for students applying in the Fall 2020 for CARES Act funds, recommended grant amounts would be:
Non-Pell eligible students: $200 per student
Pell eligible students: $200 per student plus an amount equal to the remaining Suffolk CARES Act funds (after distribution of $200 to all applicants) divided by the number of Pell eligible students who applied for funds in September – estimated to be not more than a total of $400 per student
All potentially eligible students will be sent a certification request via their Suffolk email on 10/01/20 with a submission deadline of 10/16/20.
Suffolk University has received from the Department $2,467,684 to provide HEERF Grants to the approximately 4,240 Suffolk University students eligible to receive a HEERF Grant.
- As of May 22, 2020, the University had approved $896,000.00 in HEERF Grants to approximately 1471 eligible students.
- As of June 12, 2020 the University had approved a total of $1,281,000 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2118 eligible students.
- As of July 10, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,446,100 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2408 eligible students.
- As of August 5, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,622,800 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2708 eligible students.
- As of August 27, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,627,700 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2716 students.
- As of September 21, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,631,500 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2723 students.
To ensure HEERF Grant recipients met the eligibility criteria established by the US Department of Education, the University reviewed its records on May 7, 2020 to identify those students who met all of the following conditions:
- Enrollment as of March 13, 2020 in an academic program which was both approved to participate in Title IV federal student aid programs and not offered exclusively in an online format;
- Submission to the University of a processed 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form on or before May 7, 2020; and
- Satisfaction of all student eligibility requirements under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 on or before May 7, 2020.
The University determined that the most appropriate method for distributing HEERF Grants to eligible students would be through standard grant amounts for two groups of students, prioritizing needier students as encouraged by the Department: a larger amount for Pell recipients, and a smaller amount for all other eligible students. The University understands all eligible students experienced disruption to normal campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following factors were considered to determine the size of HEERF Grants for Suffolk students:
- The amount of funding available ($2,467,684)
- The number of Federal Pell Grant recipients who met the requirements for consideration (1194)
- The number of non-Federal Pell Grant recipients who met the requirements for consideration (3046)
- An estimation of the dollar ranges for different categories of Eligible Expenses associated with the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When all factors were considered, grant amounts were set at $800 for each Federal Pell Grant recipient and $500 for non-Federal Pell Grant Recipients who certified they incurred sufficient eligible expenses under the CARES Act. The University estimated that the amount of likely Eligible Expenses our eligible students would incur would likely meet or exceed the higher grant amount.
On May 12, 2020, all 4240 Suffolk University students identified as eligible for HEERF Grants were notified of the process to receive emergency grants via their Suffolk email accounts. In addition, students were sent several email reminder notices in advance of the August 1st due date. Students were instructed to complete two steps to receive consideration:
- Complete a Suffolk University HEERF Grant certification form to confirm that they incurred or anticipated that they will incur Eligible Expenses in an amount equal to or greater than the HEERF Grant amount that they will be receiving.
- Create an eRefund account in SU Pay to receive the HEERF funds electronically deposited in the student’s bank account, if it was not created previously.
Students who indicate that they have or will incur Eligible Expenses in an amount less than the standard grant of $500 or $800 will be eligible to receive a smaller amount up to the amount of Eligible Expenses that they actually incurred. Students will receive an email via their Suffolk University email account indicating if their request has been approved or denied. Approved requests will be disbursed within 7-10 business days.
The first disbursements of HEERF student emergency grants took place during the week of May 18-May 22, 2020. Updated information on the number of students receiving funds will provided after that time.
Copies of the information, guidance and instructions provided by the University to eligible students is below.