CARES Act Student Emergency Relief Grants

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Whittier College has received federal funding through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to provide assistance to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations resulting from COVID-19. 

Student Emergency Relief Grants made possible through CARES Act funding have been fully distributed. Support was offered for the following categories of expense:

  • Food
  • Housing 
  • Course Materials 
  • Technology
  • Health Care
  • Childcare expenses
  • Other Expenses (The College may consider expenses that do not fit any of the above.) 

According to federal regulations, students enrolled in at least one face-to-face course during the 2020 spring semester were eligible for CARES Act funding if they completed a FAFSA application for 2019-2020 or 2020-2021; or

  • Met the Title IV eligibility requirements including but not limited to:
    • U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen
    • Valid social security number
    • Registration with the Selective Service if the student is male
    • High school diploma, GED, or have completed high school in an approved homeschool setting

International and non-U.S.-citizen students that did not meet these requirements were not eligible for CARES Act funding but were invited to apply to the Whittier College Emergency Fund for financial assistance.

Applying for a Relief Grant

The application period is now closed.

The College conducted two rounds of funding from May 13 through June 3, 2020. The first round was conducted through direct outreach to students who received Pell grants for the 2019-2020 academic year in compliance with the Department of Education’s instruction to prioritize students with the greatest need. The second round was open to all eligible students. Applications were reviewed on a rolling basis. The College received 361 applications and awarded 352 grants totaling $182,824. Since the volume of requests was unpredictable, initial grants were capped at $575.

Round One (Pell recipients)

The application opened on May 13, 2020, and was due by May 20, 2020. 

Round Two (All eligible students)

The application opened on May 27, 2020, and was due by June 3, 2020.

Round Three Funding

In order to equitably and expeditiously distribute the remaining CARES Act funds awarded to Whittier College as of July 1, 2020, Emergency Relief Grants were disbursed to all eligible students enrolled in Spring 2020 based on Pell status and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA) according to the following five tiers.

TIER          EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION         GRANT CAP   
1 $0-$5,542 Pell Recipients $800
2 $0-$5,542 Non-Pell Recipients $650
2b $5,602-$24,999 $650
3 $25,000-$49,999 $500
4 $50,000-$99,999 $350
5 $100,000-$999,999 $200

Students who received a CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant in Round 1 or 2 received a second grant up to the new grant cap. For example, a student who received an initial grant of $575 and qualified for $800, received an additional $225 grant. Students who already received a CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant that exceeded the new grant cap did not receive additional funds.

Students who had previously established with Whittier College had their CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant automatically deposited to the bank account on file. All other students will received a check by mail.

Students with financial need who did not meet the federal requirements of the CARES Act, including international and undocumented students, were encouraged to explore Whittier College’s other emergency funding option.

What is the CARES Act?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is federal legislation that provides financial support to individuals and organizations affected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.

The 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.

Whittier College will receive a total of $1,879,550 of which at least half ($939,775) must be provided directly to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and child care. The other half may be used by the College to cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.

How much will I receive?

Whittier College committed to equitably assist all eligible students financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to the greatest extent possible with the CARES Act funds available. First-time awards through the application process were based on actual financial need for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and child care, and were capped at $575. 

After concluding the first two rounds, the College adopted a formula to disburse the remaining CARES Act funds based on Pell status and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA).

How will I receive emergency relief?

Emergency relief funds will be directly deposited to student bank accounts already on file with Whittier College Payroll or listed on the Whittier CARES application form. The application form will be encrypted to protect your privacy. Checks will be mailed to students who are unable to receive direct deposit.

Do I need to repay the money?

No, you are not required to repay any emergency relief provided through the CARES Act.

Does this funding affect my other financial aid?

No. This is an emergency grant to help you manage unexpected expenses related to the coronavirus, and it will not have any impact on other financial aid you may be eligible to receive.

What if I still have an account balance?

Any CARES Act funding awarded to you will be paid to you directly and will not be applied to outstanding student account balances owed to Whittier College. Any outstanding balance owed to Whittier College remains the responsibility of the student.

Are CARES Emergency Grants taxable?

No, CARES Act student relief grants are not subject to federal and state tax according to the IRS nor can they be claimed as a deduction or credit “for expenses paid with the grant including the tuition and fees deduction, the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit.”

How many students received Emergency Financial Aid Grants?

Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act were disbursed to 1,418 students via direct deposit or check according to the student's preference.

What is the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed by Whittier College? 

Whittier College distributed $939,730 of the $939,775 allocated by the CARES Act in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students through two rounds of the need-based application and one round of formula-based remittance.

Who can I contact for more information?

Questions about CARES Act funding can be sent to caresrelief@whittier.edu.

CARES Act Section 18004(a)(1) Student Portion

CARES Act Section 18004(a)(1) Institutional Portion & Section 18004(a)(2)

Assurance

This emergency student aid program is funded by a $939,775 grant from the U.S. Department of Education under the CARES Act (PR/Award No. P425E202004). Whittier College acknowledges that it signed the Certification and Agreement and returned it to the Department of Education on April 13, 2020. The College further assures that of the total $1,879,550 received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, no less than 50 percent ($939,775) will be used to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Whittier College students.