Federal CARES Act Student Emergency Grant FAQ and Reporting

Student Emergency Grant FAQ

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2 trillion federal economic relief package that was signed into law March 27, 2020, providing a variety of financial relief to businesses and individuals. The CARES Act established and funded a $14 billion Higher Education Emergency Financial Relief Fund to provide student emergency grants and meet institution needs related to the COVID-19 crisis.

St. Catherine University has been allocated $2.6M in CARES Act funding, of which $1,322,523 will be awarded directly to students as emergency grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

Students must be eligible for federal Title IV financial aid. Unfortunately, international, undocumented, and students enrolled in online programs of study are not eligible for federal CARES Act grant funds. 

We recognize the needs of our students will exceed the funding provided by the CARES Act, so funding will be prioritized for those with the greatest need based on an evaluation of options and feedback from student leaders in all three colleges.

St. Kate’s convened a work group to determine how best to distribute CARES student emergency grants and to evaluate options. This included engaging students in the College for Women, College for Adults, and Graduate College to gather student input. Students from all three colleges expressed a strong desire to award grants to students with financial need rather than distributing smaller grants to all eligible students. Based on this research and feedback, we established the following guiding principles when determining how to distribute CARES funding:

  • Award recipients in a manner consistent with St. Catherine values and according to CARES Act requirements.

  • Distribute funds expeditiously to meet urgent student needs in compliance with program requirements.

  • Provide clear and transparent communication about funds, requirements, and distribution.

  • Evaluate eligibility for institutional student emergency grant funds to those who do not qualify for federal CARES Act grants.

  • Provide student emergency grants in conjunction with information and connections to additional social and financial resources.

St. Catherine University students who meet CARES Act eligibility criteria will be awarded as follows:

  • Group 1: Federal Pell Grant Recipients – The University will begin to distribute $750 grants to almost 900 Federal Pell Grant recipients who were enrolled in eligible programs during the spring semester at the time the CARES Act was enacted. These grants will be distributed by May 31. 

  • Group 2: Grants for Students with Disrupted Clinical and Fieldwork – Students with clinical and fieldwork disruptions are the second group of students who will receive emergency grants. Academic departments with students impacted by this spring term disruption are working to identify those students and criteria to receive these grant funds. These grants will be distributed by June 15. 

  • Group 3: Emergency Grants for Eligible Students: The remaining funds will be allocated to a general fund for eligible individual students with financial needs due to the spring semester disruption to submit a request for consideration. Fund requests will be accepted through June 15; these grants will be distributed by July 15. To apply, please complete the online request form.

 It is possible that students may receive more than one CARES student emergency grant.

Both graduate and undergraduate students, excluding those in online programs of study, who were enrolled spring semester at the time of the CARES Act enactment on 3/27/20, and who have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file confirming federal eligibility, may be considered for CARES Act student emergency grants.

Group 1 Pell Grant and Group 2 Clinical and Fieldwork emergency grant recipients will be identified by their enrollment in an eligible program spring semester and an eligible FAFSA record. No request is required for these grants. 

Students who do not qualify for the Group 1 Pell Grant or Group 2 Clinical and Fieldwork emergency grants, or who have additional expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 may request consideration for a CARES Act student emergency grant by completing the online request form by June 15, 2020.

Students who are not certain if they will qualify for a CARES Act student emergency grant, or who belong to one of the groups of students excluded by CARES Act guidance, may apply for consideration by emailing studentaffairs@stkate.edu. Students will be contacted by Student Affairs staff to determine eligibility for either CARES Act funding or other University emergency student grant funds if ineligible for CARES emergency grants.

Students must request consideration for a CARES Act emergency grant by June 15, 2020. Grants will be awarded by July 15 as funding permits.

Students who have previously received emergency grant funding, either CARES Act funding or University emergency funding, may contact Student Affairs to determine whether additional hardship meeting basic needs will qualify them for subsequent emergency grant.

 

All eligible Pell Grant recipients will be awarded $750 CARES student emergency grants. The CARES student emergency grant amount for students who had fieldwork, clinicals, or student teaching disruptions has not yet been determined. The amount of individual CARES emergency grants by request via the  online request form will vary based upon student needs and availability of funding.

CARES Act student emergency grants are intended to help with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and child care. For example, some technology expenses may include headphones, other equipment, or internet service. Students required to move off campus may have additional costs associated with moving or acquiring new housing accommodations, or have an increase to food and grocery expenses. This is not an exhaustive list, however students should consider whether their needs are related to the disruption of campus operations when applying for CARES Act emergency grant funding.

Technology expenses are allowed; however, the CARES funding is limited and the grant amount will generally not be sufficient to cover the cost of a new computer. The University has loaner laptops available for students to borrow. Please email helpdesk@stkate.edu if you have questions or need a loaner laptop.

Group 1 Pell Grant and Group 2 clinical/fieldwork students do not need to submit documentation. Their eligibility is based upon their current enrollment and financial aid records. Students who apply for individual for emergency grant funding should be prepared to describe their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.

CARES Act student emergency grants will be disbursed over the next 4-8 weeks in the following order. We appreciate your patience as we strive to distribute funds as quickly as possible.

  1. Spring 2020 Pell Grant Recipients – by May 31, 2020.

  2. Students whose clinicals, student teaching, or fieldwork were disrupted – by June 15, 2020.

  3. Individual applicants for CARES Act Emergency Grants – by July 15, 2020. 

Yes. CARES Act student emergency grants will be released directly to students rather than being applied to an unpaid student account balance. Students who have signed up for eRefunds with Student Accounts will have funds directly applied to their bank account. Students should log in to KatePay to set up their eRefund account for direct deposit.

Students with outstanding balances should contact the Student Accounts Office to review payment options. The University is offering a COVID-19 payment option for students with balances greater than $2500.  If you are interested in finding out more, please email student accounts at studentaccounts@stkate.edu.

No, a CARES Act student emergency grant is awarded under special regulations and will not replace or impact your financial aid. CARES grants are non-renewable, providing one-time relief for expenses in addition to any federal, state, institutional, or private aid you may have received.

No. Students do not need to repay federal CARES Act student emergency grants.

No. CARES Act student emergency grants are not taxable income for the student. According to IRS FAQs, "Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code.  This grant is not includible in your gross income."

CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting — Emergency Grants to Students

In accordance with Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act “CARES Act” St. Catherine University provides the following information describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Reef Fund (“HEERF”).

1. St. Catherine University has signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and 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 for emergency 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).

2. St. Catherine University received $1,322,523 for emergency grants for students.

3. St. Catherine University enrolled 4,219 students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and approximately 2,500 HEERF eligible students at St. Catherine University.

4. St. Catherine University has distributed $658,500 to 878 students as of May 14, 2020. St. Catherine University has distributed $1,143,000 to 1,410 students as of June 15, 2020. St. Catherine University has distributed $1,310,743 to 1,550 students as of July 15, 2020. St. Catherine University has distributed $1,322,523 to 1,550 students as of July 30, 2020 which fully expends the HEERF Student Emergency Grant funding.

5. St. Catherine University convened a staff work group to evaluate options, engaged with students in each college to gather input, and agreed to provide grants to three groups of students: 1. Federal Pell Grant recipients, 2. students with clinical and fieldwork disruptions, and 3. students with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 following individual review. Eligible students were identified based on student record data including program of study, enrollment, academic progress, and student data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students enrolled in online programs and those ineligible for federal Title IV aid were excluded.

Fifty percent of total funds were distributed to Federal Pell Grant recipients to support our neediest students who are most vulnerable and most needing financial assistance for grants to help with expenses related to the disruption of campus expenses due to COVID-19, and in recognition that 75% of the University’s HEERF allocation was determined based on enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients. The $750 grant amount was determined based on the total amount of funds available and number of Pell recipients.

A roster of CARES eligible students who were enrolled in programs of study with clinical and fieldwork courses was developed and reviewed to identify students most impacted and incurring expenses caused by the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. The $750 grant amounts were determined based on the total available funds, number of students, and intent to help those experiencing the most disruption, expense, and need for emergency grant assistance.

Approximately $180,000 will be awarded in variable amounts to students based on an individual review. The University created an online form and has a team that includes student affairs and financial aid staff to confirm eligibility and determination of amounts.

6. The University issued a Community Update on April 17 that included notification of St. Catherine University’s allocation, the restriction and intention of the University to distribute half of the funds as direct emergency grants for students. A detailed Frequently Asked Questions was developed and posted to this website.

The University emailed to all community members on May 15 details about the distribution of the CARES Act HEERF student emergency grants.

The CARES student emergency grant is recorded as a pass-through transaction on the student account for each grant recipient.

A link to CARES information is provide on the home page of the University where record of communications and updates are posted.