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Financial Aid

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds III (HEERF III) created under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP).

 

The ARP appropriated approximately $39.6 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF). The coronavirus relief funding was signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021.

 

Laredo College is pleased to announced that it has received a funding allocation of $13.3 million in American Rescue Plan under the HEERF funds to provide emergency aid grants for students.

 

HEERF III emergency funds may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as tuition, housing, food, health care (including mental health care) or childcare.

 

The ARP funds will be distributed to eligible students that meet certain criteria set by the Department of Education. Laredo College will prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Federal Pell Grants, SEOG in awarding (HEERF II) grants to students; beyond PELL eligibility such as loss of employment, reduced income, or food or housing insecurity. These grants will be used to assist Title IV and Non-Title IV eligible students due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

ARP funds has two new required uses of HEERF III- Implement evidence-based to monitor and suppress coronavirus in accordance with public health guidelines and conduct direct outreach to financial aid applicants about the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to the recent unemployment of a family member or independent student.

 

Eligible students will meet the following requirements:

 

  • Students must have been enrolled at least one credit hour on or after March 13, 2020
  • Demonstrate exceptional financial need

 

Financial Hardship Allowable Expenses: 

 

  • Any component of cost of attendance
  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Lack of educational support (including technology)
  • Food
  • Housing Health Care Child Care
  • Transportation & Personal Expenses

 

    

Laredo College Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Report  

 

 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, at least 50 percent of an institution total allotment must go to student grants. 

2.   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 under the American Rescue Plan (ARP). 

  • Laredo College has received the U.S. Department of Education Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Laredo College received a total amount $26,538,441.00 of which $13,383,222.00 or more will be distributed to eligible students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

3.   The total amount of Supplemental Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF III) distributed to students under Section 314(a)(1) of the HEERF III (ARP) as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

  • As of 06/2021, Laredo College has distributed $2,617,678.00.
  • As of 07/2021, Laredo College has distributed $1,022,928.00. 
  • As of 08/2021, Laredo College has distributed $2,222,453.00. 
  • As of 09/2021, Laredo College has distributed $1,710,500.00. 
  • As of 11/2021, Laredo College has distributed $4,890,100.00.
  • As of 12/2021, Laredo College has distributed $919,563.00.

 

4.   The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) Funding to students under Section 314(a)(1) of the HEERF III.

  • Laredo College has identified approximately 22,791 eligible students to receive the ARP Act Funding. 

 

5.   The total number of students who have received the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) Funding (HEERF III) to students under Section 314(a)(1). 

  • Out of 22,791 eligible students 15,011 have received Emergency Financial Aid Grant. 

 6. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) (HEERF III) and how much they would receive under Section 314(a)(1) of the HEERF III (ARP). As required by ARP, Laredo College prioritize students with exceptional need.   

  • Laredo College awarded:
    • From $100 - $1,700 based on exceptional need and fund availability.

 

7.   Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants. 

  • Laredo College created a HEERF Funds website dedicated to provide up-to-date HEERF Act Funding information to Laredo College students and community. 

 

 

Emergency Financial Aid Grant to Students Questions

 

1. Question: Which students are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants?

 

Answer: As announced in the Department’s final rule, the term “student,” for purposes of the phrases “grants to students,” “emergency financial aid grants to students,” and “financial aid grants to students” as used in the HEERF programs, is now defined as any individual who is or was enrolled (as defined in 34 CFR § 668.2) at an eligible institution (as defined in 34 CFR § 600.2) on or after March 13, 2020, the date of declaration of the national emergency due to the coronavirus (85 FR 15337). Thus, students are no longer required to be eligible for Title IV student financial aid in order to receive HEERF grants to students.

 

Put more plainly, students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or are eligible for Title IV. As under the CRRSAA, institutions are directed with the ARP funds to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students.

 

Beyond Pell eligibility, other types of exceptional need could include students who may be eligible for other federal or state need-based aid or have faced significant unexpected expenses, such as the loss of employment (either for themselves or their families), reduced income, or food or housing insecurity. In addition, the CRRSAA and ARP explicitly state that emergency financial aid grants to students may be provided to students exclusively enrolled in distance education.

 

2. Question: May undocumented students and international students receive HEERF?

 

Answer: Yes. The Department’s final rule on student eligibility for HEERF states that all students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are eligible for Title IV. That includes citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for 8

 

Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students.

International students may also receive HEERF. However, as noted in Questions 11 and 12, institutions must ensure that funds go to students who have exceptional need. The Department encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students, especially undergraduates, in allocating this funding. This includes citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students. 

 

3. Question: Can students who are studying abroad receive HEERF emergency financial aid grants?

 

Answer: Yes. Students studying abroad may receive HEERF emergency financial aid grants from the recipient institution where they are enrolled. These students must meet the criteria based on prioritizing exceptional need that the institution has established for distributing its HEERF emergency financial aid grants.

 

4. Question: What civil rights requirements must institutions comply with when distributing emergency financial aid grants to students under the HEERF programs?

 

Answer: HEERF grantees must not distribute student emergency financial aid grants in a manner that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, or sex. See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., (Title VI), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. (Rehabilitation Act), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 (Title IX).

 

5. Question: What are the requirements for making emergency financial aid grants to students?

 

Answer: Students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education on or after the date of the declaration of the national emergency due to the coronavirus (March 13, 2020) are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are eligible for Title IV. The CRRSAA requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances, in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students.

 

Beyond Pell eligibility, other types of exceptional need could include students who may be eligible for other federal or state need-based aid or have faced significant unexpected expenses either for themselves or that would affect their financial circumstances, such as the loss of employment, reduced income, or food or housing insecurity. In addition, the CRRSAA explicitly states that emergency financial aid grants to students may be provided to students exclusively enrolled in distance education provided they have exceptional need.

 

The Department encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students, especially undergraduates, in allocating this funding. Domestic students include citizens, permanent 9 residents, refugees, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students.  

 

Institutions may not (1) condition the receipt of emergency financial aid grants to students on continued or future enrollment in the institution, (2) use the emergency financial aid grants to satisfy a student’s outstanding account balance, unless it has obtained the student’s written (or electronic), affirmative consent, or (3) require such consent as a condition of receipt of or eligibility for the emergency financial aid grant.

 

Institutions should carefully document how they prioritize students with exceptional need in distributing emergency financial aid grants to students, as the Department is exploring reporting requirements regarding the distribution of emergency financial aid grants to students (see 2 CFR § 200.334).

 

6. Question: When might the Department determine that an institution has failed to prioritize emergency financial aid grants to students with exceptional need?

 

Answer: The Department will make an individualized determination about whether an institution failed to prioritize emergency financial aid grants to students with exceptional need. The Department may determine an institution has failed to do so if the institution established preconditions for students to receive emergency financial aid grants (e.g., (1) establishing a minimum GPA, (2) imposing other academic or athletic performance or good standing requirements, (3) requiring continued enrollment in the institution or (4) required the student to first pay any outstanding debt or balance) that results in failure to prioritize students with exceptional need.

 

7. Question: How may students use their emergency financial aid grants?

 

Answer: Emergency financial aid grants may be used by students for any component of their cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care. Students determine how they may use their emergency financial aid grant within the allowable uses.

 

8. Question: Can an institution direct or control what students may use their emergency financial aid grants on?

 

Answer: No. The student emergency financial aid grant is provided to the student, and may be used by the student for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or child care.

For example, as described in Questions 11 and 12, institutions may not compel a student to use a portion of their grants to satisfy any existing debts or balance. 10

 

9. Question: Are emergency financial aid grants to students under the HEERF program considered taxable income?

 

Answer: No. Emergency financial aid grants made by a federal agency, State, Indian tribe, higher education institution or scholarship-granting organization (including a tribal organization) to a student because of an event related to the COVID-19 national emergency are not included in the student's gross income. For more information, please see the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) bulletin Emergency aid granted to students due to COVID is not taxable (March 30, 2021).

 

10. Question: Should institutions include a student’s receipt of a HEERF emergency financial aid grant when calculating that student’s Expected Family Contribution?

 

Answer: As stated in the Department’s April 3, 2020 Electronic Announcement, “[a]ny aid (in the form of grants or low-interest loans) received by victims of an emergency from a federal or state entity for the purpose of providing financial relief is not counted as income for calculating a family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) under the Federal Methodology or as estimated financial assistance for packaging purposes.” As such, any HEERF emergency financial aid grant received by a student under the CARES Act, CRRSAA, or ARP should not be counted as income when calculating a family’s EFC.

 

11. Question: Can institutions include the amount of a HEERF student emergency financial aid grant in students’ financial aid award package?

 

Answer: No, these emergency financial aid grants are not financial aid. As always, students have discretion about how they receive their grants, and institutions must receive affirmative written consent from students before using emergency financial aid grants to satisfy a student’s outstanding account balance. Additionally, as described in Question 27, institutions may not use HEERF grant funds to advertise or recruit students by promoting the opportunity to receive a student emergency financial aid grant.

 

12. Question: What steps can my institution take if a student does not cash a check issued for student’s emergency financial aid grant?

 

Answer: If a student does not cash their emergency financial aid grant check by a reasonable date, the institution may choose to void the check and redistribute the funds to other students by the end of their HEERF grant performance period. Institutions should engage in reasonable attempts to contact a student prior to voiding a check for an emergency financial aid grant and should document the procedures, policies, and general student contact efforts made and followed as part of their administration of their HEERF grants.

 

Please see Question 19 of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Rollup Document for more details as to how institutions may distribute the emergency financial aid grants to students, if not applying directly it to a student’s account after obtaining the student’s written (or electronic), affirmative consent.   

 

13. Question: Can my institution use HEERF grant funds for students (ALNs 84.425E or 84.425Q) to recover stop-payment fees incurred due to voided and re-issued student financial aid checks that were lost or never received by the student?

 

Answer: No. Stop-payment fees on checks that were lost or never received by the student are administrative costs associated with administering the Student Aid Portion award. Such administrative costs are not allowable expenses under the ARP (a)(1) Student Aid Portion and (a)(4) grants since all those funds must be distributed to students as emergency financial aid grants. However, stop payment fees may be an allowable expenditure under the HEERF (a)(1) Institutional Portion grant provided the fees are reasonable.

 

Please check your LC Email and/or the Financial Aid Website: http://www.laredo.edu/cms/fa/ for details and updates. In addition, stay tuned for communications from Laredo College regarding the distribution of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Grants. 

 

For further information or questions, please email finaid@laredo.edu or call 956-721-5361/956-794-4360.