CARES Act Emergency Aid to Students Disclosure
CARES Act Emergency Student Aid Payments:
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania signed and submitted the Certification and Agreement for the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) allocation for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. Accordingly, on May 13, 2020, the University drew down $331,808 for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. On May 14, the University sent checks totaling $331,850 to 438 Cheyney students who were deemed eligible to receive a Student Emergency Financial Aid Grant. In so doing, the University fulfilled its obligation to distribute at least $331,808 (half of the $663,615 received through the HEERF stimulus program) directly to students.
Once the CARES Act was signed into law, Cheyney’s administration conducted several meetings to discuss and select a methodology for distributing the emergency student grants portion of the CARES Act. This process included input gathered from discussions with counterparts at other universities, participation in several webinars on the subject, and research of available online resources. The selected distribution methodology ensured adherence to the federal guidelines, while taking into consideration the needs of the students. The University conducted an online student survey to understand the impact to students caused by the coronavirus. In order to participate in the grant, students were required to complete this survey.
On April 30, the following email containing guidance and instructions on the online survey was sent by the University to all current students:
Dear Cheyney Student,
We hope this message finds you and your family well. The last several weeks have been challenging for all of us.
As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Cheyney University will be distributing emergency funds to our students. According to the CARES Act, universities are to provide ‘emergency financial aid grants…directly to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses.’
After the original announcement of this special grant program, the U.S. Department of Education issued additional guidelines and restrictions on how the funds can be distributed, along with eligibility requirements. Like all universities throughout the US, Cheyney’s Administration has been working diligently to develop a method by which the funds will be distributed to our students, while ensuring that the University complies with the federal regulations.
In order to demonstrate your possible need, we have developed a survey for all students to complete. The survey link is below. Please complete this survey as soon as possible but no later than 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 6. Unfortunately, if
you fail to submit a completed survey, you will not be able to receive an emergency grant, since the survey results will serve as supporting documentation for the distribution of this grant. Please pay particular attention to the eligibility requirements outlined in the survey, as some students will be required to submit additional documentation in order to demonstrate eligibility.
We plan to issue the emergency financial aid payments to eligible students no later than May 15, 2020.
[An active URL to the survey was included in the original email.]
For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care and stay safe!
In the survey itself, the students were further instructed as follows:
“In order to demonstrate your possible need, please indicate which, if any, of the following events have occurred to you or your immediate family since the COVID-19 outbreak. Please answer honestly. Your responses will not be used to quantify the amount of funding you may receive but will be used to validate that you have a financial need.”
The students were then asked to select all of the following situations which apply: (a) I have lost my job; (b) At least one parent or guardian has lost a job; (c) I have incurred additional costs to fund my online learning (increased internet or computer equipment costs); (d) I have experienced food insecurity; (e) I have or my family has experienced increased healthcare costs; (f) I have experienced increased childcare costs (for my dependent child); (g) Other, please explain: ____________; (h) I do not have a financial need as a result of the coronavirus situation and choose not to receive an emergency grant.
The student’s completed survey serves as evidence that the student and/or their family has been adversely impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic. In the survey, students also were given the option to opt out of the grant by responding that they and their family were not impacted by the coronavirus and that they choose not to receive a payment through this grant. Therefore, grants were awarded to those students who (1) completed the survey, (2) elected to participate in the grant, and (3) demonstrated Title IV eligibility, as required by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University used multiple means to contact students to encourage them to complete the survey: the original email notification, subsequent reminder emails sent to both their Cheyney and personal email addresses, multiple text message reminders, several posts on the University’s social media pages, and phone calls by Cheyney staff members. The University also extended the deadline to complete the survey by 48 hours, from
May 6 to May 8. These efforts were aimed at having as many students as possible to participate in the grant.
A total of 476 students completed the survey, while 26 students did not submit survey responses. Of the 476 students:
· 438 were deemed eligible to participate in the grant, in that they completed the survey, elected to participate in the grant, and demonstrated Title IV eligibility;
· 25 students completed the survey but were unable to demonstrate Title IV eligibility; and
· 13 students completed the survey but opted not to receive a grant since they indicated that they/their families were not adversely impacted financially by the coronavirus. This enabled the University to distribute these 13 students’ share of the grant to students who demonstrated need. In the event that their circumstances have change since opting out of the grant, these students still have an opportunity to request a grant payment and the University will honor such requests.
The University used the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as the basis for the amount of the grant awarded. The lower the EFC, the higher the grant payment the student received. The individual payments ranged from $633 to $815, with an average grant per student amounting to $757.65.
Accordingly, the University distributed grants to eligible students as follows: