Important information regarding the requesting and distribution of a portion of the higher education emergency funds under the CARES Act.
All of the guidance and information focuses upon the release of student funds which are expressly stated to be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).
This is only half of the funds that will ultimately be released to your institution, with another separate process yet to be defined, that will provide access to an equal amount of funds for institutional relief. Information on this process will come from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in the weeks ahead.
For now, FAME encourages our clients to take some time to review and complete the Funding Certification and Agreement, hold internal discussions on how your institutions plans to distribute the funds, including appropriate policies and procedures you will undertake to monitor the allocation and disbursement of the funds in order to fulfill the reporting requirements, and then submit your documents using the Grants.gov website.
Latest guidance posted indicates when filling out the Certificate of Agreement, please remember to enter the institution’s 50% direct-to-student allocation on the certificate, not the full 100% allocation. The availability of the remaining 50% of these funds will be announced soon.
Your institution has a year to disburse the funds, and while we understand that you are hoping to provide these funds to your students as soon as possible, we respectfully suggest that you proceed slowly and with caution in the disbursement of these funds.
Steps to be taken:
- In order to apply for funding, an institution must have an account with Grants.gov. If you do not have an account, you will need to create using the following link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/registration.html.
- You will need to complete the Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424) and ED’s Supplemental Information Form for the SF- 424.
- Download then complete the certification form, sign and submit via: www.grants.gov. The funds are expected to be available April 15. This document acknowledges the terms and conditions of the funding. It is imperative that you fully read and understand all agreements on the document before you sign and return it to ED.
- After ED has received the certificate, the funds will be made available on ED’s G5 system.
- Please notify FAME by creating a ticket on our Help Desk when you submit your certificate. We will monitor G5 and request your draw down as soon as it is available.
- The CARES Act provides schools with significant discretion as to how to award these funds to students. The school may develop its own process for determining how to allocate the funds. You may award them to all students or develop a policy that awards to students with significant need. FAME encourages schools to write up a policy stating how the funds will be disbursed. There is a statutory requirement, however, that the funds be used by the student to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.
- Schools should track the distribution of these funds for reporting to ED using a separate spreadsheet. This will allow for ease of reporting at a later date.
- The funds provided to the students do not affect the EFC or get counted as estimated financial aid and do not get input to FAME.
- Remember the school cannot use any portion of this first draw down to cover any of your cost of delivering education to the students, such as purchasing laptops for everyone. Funds to help cover institution funds will come later.
- You can move these funds to a separate account, maybe COVID-19 Student Funds to make sure that they get tracked and spent for students.
- Schools are expected to spend these funds in full within 1 year of receipt of the funds.
Links to Helpful Information: