Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grants

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On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

The ARP is the third stream of funding appropriated for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Taken together, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), and the ARP, are referred to as HEERF I, HEERF II, and HEERF III, respectively. 

Whittier College will receive $2,523,026 from the Student Aid Portion of HEERF III. Emergency financial aid grants may be used by students for any component of their cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care. Students determine how they may use their emergency financial aid grant within the allowable uses. Whittier College certifies that it will disburse its HEERF III Student Aid funds directly to students with exceptional need as required by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

HEERF III Eligibility

The Department of Education’s final rule on student eligibility for HEERF states that all students enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are eligible for Title IV. That includes citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students. International students may also receive HEERF. Institutions must ensure that funds go to students who have exceptional need. The Department encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students, especially undergraduates, in allocating this funding. Whittier College will announce eligibility parameters to determine exceptional need in August 2021.

Grant Amounts and Distribution

To comply with the directive to prioritize students with exceptional need, Whittier College will award grants to eligible students based on their Pell Grant Status, Graduate or Undergraduate Status, and Expected Family Contribution of $7,800 or less as determined by the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application.

Students recently selected to receive a 2021 Scott Scholarship were excluded from consideration in order to provide meaningful financial relief to the greatest number of students this Spring. 

Grants will be awarded as follows:

Status & Expected Family Contribution  ≤ $7,800    

Maximum Grant Amount

Pell Grant Undergraduate Recipients

$2,500

Non-Pell Undergraduates

$2,250

Graduate Students

$2,000

Distribution of CRRSAA Funds

Students will be notified of their CRRSAA emergency relief grant to their poets.whittier.edu address. Students will be required to complete the HEERF II Response Form embedded in the email to accept the funds and choose the delivery method. Students will be given the option to apply their grant to any outstanding tuition balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CRRSAA?

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) is federal legislation that provides wide ranging financial relief to individuals and organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CRRSAA appropriated over $23 billion to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) for institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the pandemic. 

The CRRSAA requires institutions of higher education that received a Student Aid award from 2020 CARES Act funding provide the same amount of emergency financial relief to students from the new CRRSAA. Whittier College was allocated $939,775 for this purpose.

How will I be notified that I am receiving CRRSAA emergency financial relief?

Students with exceptional need who meet the eligibility criteria will be directly notified by email sent to their poets.whittier.edu email address. The first round of notifications will be sent the week of February 22, 2021.

How will CRRSAA funds be distributed?

Students will be asked to choose the disbursement method they prefer. Whittier College offers three options:

  • Apply the CRRSAA grant to the student’s outstanding tuition balance, if any.
  • Deposit the grant directly to the student’s bank account. This option requires enrollment in Cashnet eRefund. Go to the My.Whittier portal. On the "For Students" page, click the "Online Payment and Payment Plan" link to securely enter bank account information to receive direct deposit refunds.
  • Mail a paper check to the student’s current address.

Students must complete and return the CRRSAA Response Form by the deadline provided in the email to indicate their preference and provide affirmative consent. Failure to respond will result in the reallocation of funds to other students in need.

Do I need to repay the money?

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

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?

You will have the option to authorize the College to apply your CRRSAA grant to your outstanding student account balance by completing the CRRSAA Response Form.

Are CRRSAA Emergency Grants taxable?

No, CRRSAA student relief grants, like the CARES Act grants which preceded them, 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.”

Who can I contact for more information?

Questions about CRRSAA funding should be sent to heerf@whittier.edu.

Whittier College received federal funding through the 2020 CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I) to provide emergency relief directly to students and to assist the College with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations resulting from COVID-19.

Student Emergency Relief Grants made possible through the 2020 CARES Act 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.) 

This emergency student aid program was funded by a $939,775 grant from the U.S. Department of Education (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.

CARES Act Eligibility and Application Process

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.

CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions

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.