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College students beginning to receive CARES Act refund


SYLACAUGA, Ala. -The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in students having to resort to distant learning via the internet, and as a result colleges are beginning to give back during this time of crisis.

The CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) serves as a form of financial relief for colleges and universities who have been forced to resort to distant learning whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation.

Locally, on May 13, Central Alabama Community College (CACC) received over $1.2 million dollars from the HEERF.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), every university being awarded the grant must allocate at least half of the amount to the students.

According to CACC’s website, of that $1.2 million, $493,800 has already been allocated to the students, and the college is in the process of allocating more.

The money being dispersed to students is being named an Emergency Financial Aid Grant, and it will be dispersed via check through the United States Postal Service.

“Obviously this is very important because it helps the students as well as the college,” said Recruiter/Coordinator of High School and Public Relations at CACC Brett Pritchard. “We are in kind of unprecedented times because of the pandemic. Our primary goal at our college is to make sure our students are taken care of, and have the things they need to be successful. Everybody has just had to adjust to online distant l;earning.”

The funding amount for the grant is determined by the university. For example, here is CACC’s criteria:

  • Funding will be distributed to all eligible students who were attending Spring Semester 2020 and were receiving Title IV funds in tiered amounts based on a determined enrollment/participation status as of March 16. Students not currently receiving Title IV aid may complete the FASFA within 30 days from the initial disbursement date to establish eligibility for HEERF Grant Funds for funding.
  • Tier 1 – Full-time status (12 or more semester credit hours) – $ 850.00
  • Tier 2 – Three-quarter time status (9-11 semester credit hours) – $ 650.00
  • Tier 3 – Half-time status (6-8 semester credit hours) – $ 450.00
  • Tier 4 – Less than half-time status (5 semester credit hours or less) – $ 250.00

Overall, every student at any university must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible, according to Section 484 of the Higher Education Act:

  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.
  • Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school.
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress (currently enrolled students).
  • 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.

According to the DOE, 50 schools in Alabama have received the grant, resulting in a grand total of $184 million. The University of Alabama received the highest amount at $20.8 million, with Auburn University falling in second at $15.6 million.

Nationally, over $12.9 billion was granted to institutions of higher learning.

Students at CACC are eligible to apply for the HEERF refund through June 17. In order to receive the grant you must complete FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year.

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