COVID-19 Emergency Funding Information

CARES Act: HEERF Reporting Requirements

Updated: July 2, 2020

U.S. Department of Education CARES ACT website link https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/caresact.html

Overview

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) that provides more than $14 billion in emergency funding to higher education. Of those funds, more than $6 billion must go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants (HEERF-student share) for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 crisis. On April 9, 2020, the ED published a list of individual institutional allocations, a certification form that must be signed and returned in order to access the funds, and a letter from Secretary Betsy DeVos outlining ED’s implementation of the CARES Act program. On April 21, 2020, ED released additional clarification on student eligibility and allowable uses of HEERF-student share funds. (NASFAA 2020)

Pitt Community College’s Allocation and Actions

PR Award Number P425E200960

On April 14th 2020, Pitt Community College’s President, Dr. Lawrence Rouse, signed the HEERF certification form for the student portion of funding.

PCC was allocated a total of $5,510,793.00 of which $2,755,397 is being released directly to students.

On April 22nd, 2020, PCC received the student portion of HEERF and began the process of determining eligible students and creating an application.

Eligibility

The following eligibility criteria was used to determine eligible applicants. This information was determined as of March 1st 2020, student’s Spring 2020 status, 2019-2020 FAFSA.

  • Not Title IV Aid, but Title IV Eligibility Required: While HEERF-student share dollars are not Title IV aid, ED’s April 21 guidance states that students must meet Title IV eligibility requirements in order to receive HEERF emergency grants.
    • Section 484 of the HEA states that Title IV eligible students must:
      • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.
      • Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school.
      • For currently enrolled students, be making satisfactory academic progress.
      • Not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans.
      • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
      • File “as part of the original financial aid application process” a certification that includes
        • A statement of educational purpose.
        • Student’s SSN.
      • Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible noncitizen.
      • Have returned fraudulently obtained Title IV funds if convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges.
      • Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits.
      • Have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently.
      • Have Selective Service registration verified.
      • Have Social Security Number verified.
      • Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.
  • Expense v. Need: HEERF-student share dollars are to aid students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus; this is different than a change in a student’s financial need due to COVID-19, which could be a result of a loss of income rather than new expenses.
  • Direct to Students: Institutions must pay HEERF-student share emergency grants directly to students and may not apply the grants toward outstanding institutional charges. (NASFAA 2020)

Process

An application was derived based on the qualifications above and made available electronically to all eligible applicants. Titled “Emergency Financial Aid Application”, can be found under the student’s PCC portal under “Student Resources”. Applications were due on 5/15/2020 no later than 5PM. The deadline was subsequently extended through 5/18/2020 at 8AM.

The application consisted of students checking an appropriate box(es) of needs related to COVID19 or a write in “other” option. The Grants Management Team and the Director of Financial aid reviewed all applications for completeness and emailed students directly if applications were blank.

Students were instructed to check a box electronically consenting to the following:

“By signing this application, you certify that the information reported is accurate. You understand that if you are awarded funds, they will be sent to the address on file with the Registrar’s Office. Any funding received will be used for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the corona virus as indicated above. Submission of this application does not guarantee funding. Upon approval, you will receive an email of how and when to expect funding.”

Eligible students were notified at the following dates/manner;

  1. 5/6/2020 Initial email notifying student of eligibility and link to application sent to student’s PCC email address.
  2. 5/6/2020 acknowledgment email sent to students who submitted application the acknowledgement email indicates a timeline for funding, how funding will be paid and additional resources.
  3. 5/8/2020 reminder email sent to students
  4. 5/8/2020 acknowledgment email sent to students
  5. 5/13/2020 text message sent to eligible students directing them to check their email about the Emergency Funding Application
  6. 5/13/2020 acknowledgement email sent to students
  7. 5/13/2020 reminder email sent to students
  8. 5/14/2020 acknowledgement email sent to students
  9. 5/15/2020 acknowledgement email sent to students
  10. 5/16/2020 reminder email sent to students
  11. 5/17/2020 reminder text went out to students
  12. 5/17/2020 acknowledgement sent to students
  13. 5/19/2020 notification of approval, denial or check being held

Qualitative Data

  • 3,621 students were determined eligible
  • 2,150 students submitted an application
  • 2,095 applications were approved
    • Denied applications consisted of the following reasons:
      • Blank application and no correspondence received from student on a qualifying expense
      • Indication from the student via email or on application that they did not need/want the funding
    • $2,755,397.00 in funding was divided evenly by all students
    • $2,755,394.12 Amount was awarded on 5/18/2020
    • 2,056 student checks were mailed out on 5/19/2020
    • 39 checks are being held due to blank applications. Those checks will be released as responses are received – update 6/16, all checks have been released

Part II HEERF CARES Part II – Institutional Funds

  1. 05/16/2020 Ricky Brown, Pitt Community College Chief Financial Officer (CFO), signed the HEERF certification agreement for the Institutional portion of funding. PCC was allocated a total of $2,755,396.
  2. 05/16/2020 CARES Act Part II application was submitted to U.S. Department of Education by the Grants Management Office.
  3. 05/18/2020 CARES Act Part II funding in the amount of $2,755,396. was received from U.S. Department of Education. PR/Award Number P425F203211.
  4. 05/22/2020 Mr. Ricky Brown, CFO, shared the CARES Part II funding information and the funding purpose during the Pitt Community College Town Hall meeting. The meeting was open to all employees.
  5. 05/22/2020 Confirmation of funds email sent to Dept. of Education program officer Toyin Fasakin.
  6. 05/22/2020 A team consisting of Dr. Thomas Gould, VP Student Services and Academic Affairs and Rick Owens, VP Administrative Services, Ricky Brown, CFO, were designated to lead the funds distribution process.
  7. 06/04/2020 Dr. Gould notified division deans and directors via email that each department requests were due by 5 pm on June 15, 2020.
  8. 06/18/2020 Division requests were compiled, federal officer contacted for approval of funds.
  9. 06/23/2020 Federal Webinar link for OPE CARES Act Technical Assistance Webinar sent by federal officer. Webinar viewed by Grants Management Office personnel and Director of Financial Aid. Recording of link shared with management team.
  10. 06/23/2020 Email sent to heerf@ed.gov requesting approval of hiring of temporary part-time or full-time employees to assist with COVID related increases.
  11. 06/27/2020 Affirmative Email received from HEERF@ed.gov  for above hiring of temporary part time and full time employees.
  12. 07/02/2020 Website updated with HEERF grant information and website link https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/caresact.html

Part III HEERF CARES Part III – SIP Formula Funds

  1. 05/01/2020 Ricky Brown, Pitt Community College Chief Financial Officer (CFO), signed the HEERF certification agreement for the SIP Formula Grants funding.
  2. 05/02/2020 CARES Act Part III application was submitted to U.S. Department of Education by the Grants Management Office.
  3. 05/29/2020 PCC awarded funding in the amount of $269,282 was received from the U.S. Department of Education. PR/Award Number p425M200453
  4. 06/04/2020 A team consisting of Dr. Thomas Gould, VP Student Services and Academic Affairs and Rick Owens, VP Administrative Services, Ricky Brown, CFO, were designated to lead the funds distribution process.
  5. 06/04/2020 Dr. Gould notified division deans and directors via email that each department requests were due by 5 pm on June 15, 2020.
  6. 06/08/2020 Confirmation of funds email sent to Dept. of Education program officer Karen Epps.
  7. 06/18/2020 Division requests were compiled, federal officer contacted for approval of funds.
  8. 06/23/2020 Email notice received from federal officer of OPE CARES Act Technical Assistance Webinar to be held 6/23.
  9. 06/23/2020 Grants Management Office personnel and Director of Financial Aid viewed webinar, shared recording link with management team.
  10. 07/02/2020 Per federal requirements PCC’s website has been updated with the CARES Act website link. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/caresact.html.
  11. In accordance with the CARES Act Recipient Agreement section 4c, Pitt Community College has continued to pay all of its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures to the greatest extent practicable, in compliance with Section 18006 of the CARES Act.
  12. Information on this document was obtained from NASFAA (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) NASFAA.org on 5/17/2020.