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COVID-19 CARES Act

CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund Update (October 2020)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020.  The CARES Act created the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which provided funds to higher education institutions like Becker College to grant emergency financial aid to students whose lives were disrupted and faced financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Becker College also received a grant for institutional expenses.

Author:  Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education

Subject:  Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Reporting

Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”), Pub.L.No.16-136, 134 Stat.281 (March 27, 2020) directs institutions receiving funds under Section 18004 of the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the Secretary of Education) a report to the Secretary describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”).  Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act requires institutions to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received from Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students for 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 childcare). On April 9, 2020, the Department published documents related to the Emergency Financial Aid Grants, including a letter from Secretary Betsy DeVos, a form Certification and Agreement for signing and returning by institutions to access the funds, and a list of institutional allocations under 18004(a)(1).

In the meantime, each HEERF participating institution must post the information listed below on the institution’s primary website. Accordingly, the following information must appear in a format and location that is easily accessible to the public 30 days after the date when the institution received its allocation under 18004(a)(1) and updated every 45 days thereafter.

College Response:  Becker College’s total allocation was $1,645,170.  The first allocation grant, awarded in April 2020, is for emergency financial aid to students in the amount of $822,585.  The second allocation grant of $822,585, awarded in May 2020, covers any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to COVID-19.

As required, below are four postings on updated information:  May 21, 2020 (first posting), July 2, 2020 (second), and August 12, 2020 (third). As of August 31, 2020, the requirement was reduced to once a quarter, no later than 10 days after September 30, December 31, March 31, June 30.  Accordingly, the fourth update occurred in October 2020.

Update-October 1, 2020 [Note:  No changes made to the August 12, 2020 update]

Update-January 4, 2021 [Note: No changes made to the August 12, 2020 update]

HEERF – Student Portion Reporting

Colleges are required to report on their use of student funds received under the CARES Act.  Institutions must post information about these funds onto their “primary” website within 30 days of receiving the grant allocation and every 45 days thereafter.  The information that institutions need to post on their website includes:

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

College Response:  Becker College acknowledges that it has signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement and has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Becker College students.

  1. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

College Response:  Becker College received a total amount of $822,585 for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students, all of which has been returned directly to students.

  1. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

College Response:  On May 13, 2020, Becker College mailed checks totaling $814,445 to eligible students and planned to distribute the remaining $8,140 in the coming weeks. As of July 2,2020, $816,880 had been allocated to students while $5,705 was unallocated with the intent of being finalized in July 2020. As of August 12, 2020, Becker has allocated $822,590 to be returned to students (the entire allocation of $822,585 and an additional $5.00).  A total of $816,080 has been returned. The remaining $6,510 has been allocated and will be mailed to students within the next ten days.

  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  In Spring 2020, a total of 1,476 students started an in-person (not exclusively online) program. This number does not include consortium/non-matriculated students taking classes. As of May 13,2020, 1,315 (89%) of the 1,476 students have valid ISIRs; 161 do not. As of July 2,2020, 1,318 (89.3%) of the 1,476 students have valid ISIRs; 158 do not. As of August 12,2020, 1,317 (89.2%) of 1,476 students have valid ISIRs–159 do not. A valid ISIR is an Institutional Student Information Record that has all accurate and complete information used in calculating the student’s expected family contribution as of the date when signed.

  1. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  As of May 13,2020, 1,312 students received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant. The remaining three students will receive funds once requested documentation to finalize their FAFSAs is received. As of July 2,2020, 1,316 students are eligible for the Emergency Financial Aid Grant (two students had not yet completed verification). As of August 12,2020,1,317 students are eligible for the Emergency Financial Aid Grant.

  1. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  On May 4,2020, the College communicated the following on the COVID section of Becker’s website:

“After considerable analysis, Becker will award funds based on four levels of need:

  1. Financial Need and PELL eligible                  $800 per student
  2. Financial Need and Not PELL eligible            $535 per student
  3. All Other Students Who Filed FAFSA                            $100 per student”
  4. On August 12,2020, a fourth level of need was added. Students who are not Pell eligible with the greatest remaining financial need would receive $105 per student. It was determined that 62 students fell into this fourth category. Since each student in this category had previously received a $535 disbursement in May, the new total yield $640 per student.
  5. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

College ResponseOn May 15, 2020, the following explanatory email was sent to all students to whom a check was mailed on May 13, 2020:

“In April, the federal government passed the CARES Act, a section of which allocated funds for college students affected by Covid-19. To distribute these funds to our students, Becker College mailed you a check on Wednesday, May 13. This money is for you to spend however you like; it is meant to help offset any hardships (such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care) you experienced when students were restricted, due to public health guidelines, from returning to campus in Spring 2020. This is your money to spend any way that you wish. This dollar amount will not be included in your AGI and does not get reported on your taxes.”

HEERF – Institutional Cost Reporting

Becker College received $822,585 in May 2020 as the second allocation grant. These funds were used to offset refunds to students for Room, Board and Becker Bucks (fees).  Thus, total refunds exceeded the allocation amount by $355,916.52.

Room Refunds $548,312.34
Board Refunds $575,400.00
Becker Bucks (Fee) Refunds $54,789.18
Total Refund $1,178,501.52

 

Update-July 2, 2020

HEERF – Student Portion Funding

Per guidance from the Federal government regarding CARES Act Funding, the College is required to furnish the following information 30 days after the date when the institution received its allocation under 18004(a)(1) and updated every 45 days thereafter. The first posting occurred on May 21, 2020– the required 45-day update.

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

College Response:  Becker College acknowledges that it signed and returned the Certification and Agreement to the U.S. Department of Education and has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received.

  1. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

College Response:  Becker College received $822,585 for the student portion of funds, all of which is to be returned directly to students.

  1. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

College Response:  On May 13,2020, Becker College mailed out checks totaling $814,445 to eligible students and intends to distribute the remaining $8,140 in the upcoming weeks. As of this update (July 2, 2020), $816,880 has been allocated to students while $5,705 unallocated. We will finalize unallocated funds in July 2020.

  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response: In Spring 2020, a total of 1,476 students started an in-person (not exclusively online) program. This number does not include consortium/non-matriculated students taking classes. As of May 13, 2020, 1,315 (89%) of the 1,476 students have valid ISIRs; 161 do not. As of July 2,2020, 1,318 (89.3%) of the 1,476 students have valid ISIRs; 158 do not.

  1. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  As of May 13,2020, 1,312 students received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant. The remaining three students will receive funds once requested documentation to finalize their FAFSAs is received. As of July 2,2020,1,316 students are eligible for the Emergency Financial Aid Grant.

  1. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  On May 4,2020, the College communicated the following on the COVID section of Becker’s website:

“After considerable analysis, Becker will award funds based on three levels of need:

  1. Financial Need and PELL Eligible                  $800 per student
  2. Financial Need and Not PELL Eligible            $535 per student
  3. All Other Students Who Filed FAFSA                         $100 per student”
  4. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

College ResponseOn May 15, 2020, the following explanatory email was sent to all students to whom a check was mailed on May 13, 2020:

“In April, the federal government passed the CARES Act, a section of which allocated funds for college students affected by Covid-19. To distribute these funds to our students, Becker College mailed you a check on Wednesday, May 13. This money is for you to spend however you like; it is meant to help offset any hardships (such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care) you experienced when students were restricted, due to public health guidelines, from returning to campus in Spring 2020. This is your money to spend any way that you wish. This dollar amount will not be included in your AGI and does not get reported on your taxes.”

Update – May 21, 2020

HEERF – Student Portion Reporting

Per guidance from the Federal government regarding CARES Act Funding, the College is required to furnish the following information 30 days after the date when the institution received its allocation under 18004(a)(1) and updated every 45 days thereafter.

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

College Response:  Becker College acknowledges that it has signed and returned the Certification and Agreement to the U. S. Department of Education and has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Becker College students.

  1. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

College Response:  Becker College received $822,585 for the student portion–all of which is to be returned directly to students.

  1. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

College Response:  On May 13,2020, Becker College mailed out checks totaling $814,445 to eligible students and plans to distribute the remaining $8,140 in the upcoming weeks.

  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  In Spring 2020, a total of 1,476 students started an in-person (not exclusively online) program. This number does not include consortium/non-matriculated students taking classes. As of May 13,2020, 1,315 (89%) of the 1,476 students have valid ISIRs; 161 do not.

  1. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  As of May 13,2020, 1,312 students received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant. The remaining three students will receive funds once requested documentation to finalize their FAFSAs is received.

  1. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

College Response:  On May 4,2020, the College communicated the following:

“After considerable analysis, Becker will award funds based on three levels of need:

  1. Financial Need and PELL eligible                  $800 per student
  2. Financial Need and Not PELL eligible            $535 per student
  3. All Other Students Who Filed FAFSA              $100 per student”
  4. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

College ResponseOn May 15, 2020, the following explanatory email was sent to all students to whom a check was mailed on May 13,2020:

“In April, the federal government passed the CARES Act, a section of which allocated funds for college students affected by Covid-19. To distribute these funds to our students, Becker College mailed you a check on Wednesday, May 13. This money is for you to spend however you like; it is meant to help offset any hardships (such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care) you experienced when students were restricted, due to public health guidelines, from returning to campus in Spring 2020. This is your money to spend any way that you wish. This dollar amount will not be included in your AGI and does not get reported on your taxes.”

 

Posted Date:  May 4, 2020  

Author:  Becker College

Subject: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Reporting-Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students

Dear Students:

The CARES Act, which establishes and funds the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), directs institutions of higher education to use no less than 50 percent of funds received under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for 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).

Becker College received a total of $1,645,170, with one-half of these funds—$822,585—for disbursement directly to Becker students, and the remaining $822,585 available to assist with items such as room & board refunds and technology enhancements necessary to enhance online teaching transitions during the Spring 2020 semester.

Direct Funds to Students

The Department of Education provided limited direct guidance on how institutions should provide these stimulus funds to students. The Department encouraged colleges to look to those students with greater need but issued no further details. The one directive regarding these funds is that students must have a valid FAFSA on file to be eligible for these funds.  

Becker has made the decision that students who have not yet filed a FAFSA may do so by May 20, 2020, and then appeal to the Financial Aid Office.

After considerable analysis, Becker will award funds based on three levels of need:

  1. Financial Need and PELL eligible                              $800 per student
  2. Financial Need and Not PELL eligible                      $535 per student
  3. All Other Students Who Filed FAFSA                       $100 per student

The College believes that all students who filed a FAFSA should receive a small portion of these funds to help. Checks should be mailed by the end of the week of May 4, 2020.

Institutional Funds to Use with Discretion

The Department of Education provided far wider discretion with the second half of the stimulus funds, $822,585. Becker has determined that the best use of these funds is to dedicate them to room & board refunds.

Students who have paid room & board fees for the Spring semester will receive a pro-rated refund based on the time when the College officially closed the campus (March 16,2020) to the end of the Spring semester (May 7, 2020–the last day of final exams).

College residence halls are unlike hotel rooms, in that expenses are not spread equally day-to-day. The College incurs far greater expenses in the first half of a Spring semester versus the second half, which includes utilities, facilities management support, snow removal when necessary as well as rent for leased residence halls. Many of these expenses continued after the transition to remote learning.

The refunds will be applied as follows:

  1. Room: There are five room rates in the Becker system.  Students will receive a fixed refund amount based on what room rate was billed.
  2. Board: All students on a 14- or 19-meal plan will receive a fixed amount based on the number of days missed due to the shutdown.
  3. Becker Bucks: Students with unused Becker Bucks will be refunded those balances.

The College will complete an account reconciliation for all students at the end of the Spring 2020 semester and apply a refund or partial refund amount first to any unpaid balance on your account. Refund checks will be sent out as soon as the funds are made available to the College from the government.

For questions related to the Stimulus Funds, please email stimulusfund@becker.edu.

Richard Naylor, Interim Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

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