Report: CARES Act Relief Funds – Emergency Grants to Students May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

The Evergreen State College has begun the process of delivering CARES Act Relief Funds (HEERF) to students affected by disruptions to campus operations, as of March 13, 2020.

On April 14, 2020, The Evergreen State College signed and returned the Certification and Agreement form to the Department of Education.  This agreement acknowledges the College will use no less than 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the Cares Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

On April 21, 2020, The Evergreen State College received the Grant Award Notice from the Department of Education awarding the College $1,893,816 with a federal funding period of April 21, 2020 through April 20, 2021.  This amount is to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

Generally, any student registered for spring quarter 2020 and meeting Title IV eligibility criteria (Section 484 in Title Iv of the Higher Education Act of 1965) is considered eligible to receive CARES Act Relief Funds.

Students must have a current, valid FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on file for the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 academic year. The FAFSA is considered a student’s application to receive financial support toward paying for their cost of attendance (COA). The COA contains the eligible expenses listed by the Department of Education (DOE) in the certification signed on April 14, 2020 (Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act). Those expenses include: food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. The FAFSA also provides students with the tool needed to confirm their eligibility to receive federal student aid, in accordance with Title IV requirements.

A core group of administrators, led by Evergreen’s Chief Enrollment Officer, examined a variety of methods to deliver CARES Act Relief Funds to students within DOE guidelines. After the April 21, 2020 DOE guidance that tied CARES Act Relief funds to Title IV eligibility, the college decided to require that students submit a 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 FAFSA to receive CARES Act Relief Fund support. In order deliver funds to all of our enrolled students, in an equitable way, the college determined that our students demonstrating the highest need are to receive a one-time grant of $750.00. All other enrolled students may receive a one-time grant payment of $500.00. In this case, need is determined by a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined by the FAFSA. Students with an EFC of 5550 or lower receive a $750.00 CARES Act Relief Funds payment and all other students, with EFC’s of 5551 and higher may receive $500.00. For students with an EFC near or above their COA, an automatic payment of CARES Act Relief Funds is not applicable. However, all enrolled students who meet Title IV eligibility requirements may submit a statement to the Financial Aid Office detailing their need for CARES Act Relief Funds and may receive a $500.00 payment.

Additional funding may be available to address students’ needs in accordance with DOE guidance, on a case-by-case basis, over future academic quarters and not beyond DOE timelines.

Payments of CARES Act Relief Funds are made directly to the student and not applied to any balance due to the college or any other authority (DOE or state of Washington).

As of today, May 20, 2020, The Evergreen State College has awarded $1,127,500 to 1624 students. It is estimated 1847 students may be eligible under Section 484 in Title Iv of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are eligible to receive aid under Section 18004(a)(1) of the Cares Act. All students have been encouraged to submit a FAFSA in order gain access to CARES Act Relief Funds. Evergreen’s total enrollment for spring quarter 2020 is 2467.

As of September 30, 2021 The Evergreen State College has paid a total of $1,769,591.00 in funds made available through the first federal relief bill (CARES), $1,787,464.00 via the second federal relief package (CRRSA) and $2,152,061.00 through the third federal relief program (American Rescue Plan). The primary method used to disburse emergency grant funds to eligible students, affected by campus disruptions due to a statewide response to COVID-19, has been in the form of flat grant payments.

Students who filed a FAFSA, having an estimated family contribution (EFC) within the range for the federal Pell grant received $1,000.00. All other FAFSA filers received $750.00 and those who did not file a FAFSA received $500.00. General eligibility criteria has remained consistent since the first federal relief bill (CARES), made available in spring 2020, with the exception of the requirement that students must meet federal Title IV eligibility standards.
In addition to the flat grant payments, the Financial Aid Office has assisted students in need on a case-by-case basis. Students can request emergency financial assistance, in writing, and may receive federal relief funds (CARES, CRRSA, American Rescue Plan) to help meet their needs.