CARES Act

The federal government recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A portion of this legislation is to support college and university students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

The CARES Act provides money to cover student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Eligible expenses include those considered as the student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare.

The CARES Act does exclude the following students from receiving awards: 
  • PSEO students (Online College in the High School, concurrent enrollment, regular PSEO)
  • Exclusively online students
  • Incarcerated students
  • Students paying the senior citizen rate/noncredit courses
  • Farm Business Management students
  • Students who have not completed a FAFSA to confirm they meet the federal student eligibility requirements

The list of eligible students is based on those enrolled as of March 6, 2020. Eligible students will receive $200 or $300 awards based on financial aid eligibility. Money will be transferred to direct deposit bank accounts on file. If students do not have a direct deposit bank account set up, a check will be mailed to the address listed in eServices.


Emergency Grants

We encourage all students experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19 disruptions to apply for emergency grants and scholarships. ATCC understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted many students and families. Please take a few minutes to complete the Emergency Grants Application via the link below. We will work diligently to review each application within three business days. The Financial Aid Office is here to help you through this challenging time. Please do not hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office by calling 320-762-4540 or emailing financialaid@alextech.edu if you have any questions.

Apply for Emergency Grants >>

Note: You may be asked to log in with your MinnState email ([YourStarID]@go.minnstate.edu) and password if you are not already logged in to Microsoft Office online.

 


Scholarships

The deadline for scholarships for Fall 2020 was June 1. Available scholarships included program-specific awards, and general scholarships. To learn more about scholarships, please visit alextech.edu/scholarships


Emergency Financial Aid Grants FAQs

Q: I am a student who received an emergency financial aid grant under section 3504, 18004, or 18008 of 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. Is this grant includible in my gross income?

A: No. 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.

Q: I received an emergency financial aid grant under the CARES Act and used some of it to pay for course materials that are now required for online learning because my college or university campus is closed. Can I claim a tuition and fees deduction for the cost of these materials, or treat the cost of these materials as a qualifying education expense for purposes of claiming the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit?

A: No. Because the emergency financial aid grant is not includible in your gross income, you cannot claim any deduction or credit for expenses paid with the grant including the tuition and fees deduction, the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit. See section 139(h) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Background: 

Sections 3504, 18004, and 18008 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted on March 27, 2020, allow higher education institutions to use certain funds allocated by the Department of Education to support students and higher education institutions with expenses and financial needs related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Section 3504 of the CARES Act allows higher education institutions to use additional supplemental educational opportunity grant funds they receive through the Higher Education Act to award emergency financial aid grants to support graduate and undergraduate students experiencing “unexpected expenses and unmet financial need” as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Section 18004 of the CARES Act directs the Secretary of Education to allocate funds out of the Higher Education Relief Fund to higher education institutions to directly support students facing urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including school closures. These funds may be used (1) to defray the institutions’ expenses, including lost revenues and payroll for employees and (2) for “emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).” Recipient higher education institutions must pay no less than 50 percent of these funds to students as emergency financial aid grants.

Section 18008 of the CARES Act directs the Secretary of Education to allocate additional funds to Howard University and Gallaudet University to directly support students facing urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support these institutions they cope with the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including school closures. These funds may be used (1) by the institutions to help defray their expenses and (2) for “grants to students for expenses directly related to” the COVID-19 pandemic and for expenses “caused by the disruption of university operations” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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CARES Act FAQ

Background: The CARES Act, which establishes and funds the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), directs institutions of higher education ("institutions") to use no less than 50 percent of funds received under Sections 18004(a)(l) 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. These FAQs address only those funds provided by the Secretary to an institution for emergency financial aid grants to students under Sections 18004(a)(l) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act. 

 

Can institutions that have provided refunds to students for room and board, tuition, and other fees (such as activities fees) reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to use no less than 50 percent of HEERF funds received under Sections 18004(a)(l) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act to provide emergency financial aid grants to students. These funds distributed by the Department represent the 50 percent minimum of each institution's HEERF funds under Section 18004(a)(l) of the CARES Act for these emergency financial aid grants to students. Section 2 of the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students states: "Recipient shall not use [these] funds to reimburse itself for any costs or expenses, including but not limited to any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and/or any refunds or other benefits that Recipient previously issued to students."

Institutions will have more flexibility in the use of the portion of the HEERF that is made available to cover an institution's costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. The Department will provide a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document regarding the allowable uses of funds for an institution's costs shortly after making those funds available to institutions.

 

Can institutions that have provided information technology hardware (such as laptops, hotspot internet devices, etc.) and other related equipment to students reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to provide the emergency financial aid grants to students. Section 2 of the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students states: "Recipient shall not use [these] funds to reimburse itself for any costs or expenses, including but not limited to any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and/or any refunds or other benefits that Recipient previously issued to students."

Institutions will have more flexibility in the use of the portion of the HEERF that is made available to cover an institution's costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. The Department will provide a FAQ document regarding the allowable uses of funds for an institution's costs shortly after making those funds available to institutions. 

 

Can institutions that have provided institutionally-funded emergency grants to students as a result of COVID-19 reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

The only institutionally-funded emergency grants to students that are eligible for reimbursement from the funds for emergency financial aid grants to students under the CARES Act are grants: 1) for authorized expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus as set forth in Section 18004( c) of the CARES Act; 2) made to students eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act; and 3) made on or after March 27, 2020, the date the CARES Act was enacted. An institution must use no less than 50 percent of funds provided pursuant to Sections 18004(a)(l) and 18004( c) for emergency financial aid grants to students. An institution must document that reimbursements for institutionally-funded emergency grants to students are made in accordance with the CARES Act.

 

Can institutions that have continued to pay student workers from institutional funds for campus jobs reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to provide the emergency financial aid grants to students, and institutions may not use that portion of the HEERF set aside for emergency financial aid grants to students for this purpose. The Department notes that Congress has provided additional flexibility to institutions relating to the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program, including that institutions may continue to pay FWS wages to students for the remainder of the current academic year in instances in which those students' jobs were interrupted as a result of the national emergency due to the coronavirus, as long as those students had started employment prior to this national emergency. The CARES Act also waives the non-federal wage match requirement for institutional and non-profit employers ofFWS students. Please see the Department's Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus, which provides additional information about the FWS Program.

The Department will provide a FAQ document regarding the allowable uses of funds for an institution's costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus shortly after making those funds available to institutions.

 

Can institutions use the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students to pay outstanding or overdue student bills to institutions?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to provide the emergency financial aid grants to students. The institution may not use that portion of the HEERF set aside for emergency financial aid grants to students to satisfy a student's outstanding account balance. The Department notes that the student may use his or her emergency financial aid grant for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

 

What data will the Department require institutions to report after disbursement of emergency financial aid grants to students?

As explained in the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, each institution will report to the Secretary the following: how grants were distributed to students, how the amount of each grant was calculated, and any instructions or directions that the institution gave to students about the grant. Institutions must also comply with the reporting requirements under Section 15011 of the CARES Act. The Department will publish a notice in the Federal Register to provide instructions to institutions on these reporting requirements.

 

What obligation does an institution have to continue to pay all its employees after accepting the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

The CARES Act requires each institution that accepts funds from the HEERF, including funds used to pay emergency financial aid grants, to continue to pay employees and contractors to the greatest extent practicable based on the unique financial circumstances of each institution; however, institutions may not use emergency financial aid grants to students to pay employees and contractors.

 

Are incarcerated students participating in the Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Initiative (ESI) eligible for emergency financial aid grants to students?

The CARES Act expressly requires that institutions provide the 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)." If an incarcerated individual who is participating in the Second Chance Pell experiment is released from incarceration as a result of the national emergency due to the coronavirus, remains enrolled as a student in the program under the Second Chance Pell experiment, and has such expenses, he or she likely qualifies for an emergency financial aid grant. A person who remains incarcerated is unlikely to incur these expenses and would thus be ineligible. Accordingly, for students participating in the Second Chance Pell ESI, institutions will need to review on a case-by-case basis what, if any, expenses an incarcerated person, or a formerly incarcerated person released due to the coronavirus, has incurred due to the disruption of campus operations.

 

What students are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF?

Only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants. If a student has filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (F AFSA), then the student has demonstrated eligibility to participate in programs under Section 484 the HEA. Students who have not filed a F AFSA but who are eligible to file a FAFSA also may receive emergency financial aid grants. The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include but are not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting. 

 

Will funds provided through the CARES Act be included in an institution's 90/10 calculation?

Funds paid directly to institutions by the Department through the HEERF will not be included as revenue for 90/10 purposes. 

 

How must institutions pay the emergency financial aid grants to students?

Institutions may provide emergency financial aid grants to students using checks, electronic transfer payments, debit cards, and payment apps that adhere to the Department's requirements for paying credit balances to students. The disbursement of the emergency financial aid grant to the student must remain unencumbered by the institution; debts, charges, fees, or other amounts owed to the institution may not be deducted from the emergency financial aid grant. The emergency financial aid grant may not be made to students through the use of a credit card that can be used only on campus or in a retail outlet affiliated with the institution. 

 

At institutions that provide both online and ground-based education, are students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs prior to the national emergency due to the coronavirus eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants?

At institutions that provide both online and ground-based education, those students who were enrolled exclusively in an online program on March 13, 2020, the date of the President's Proclamation, "Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak," Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 53 at 15337-38, are not eligible for emergency financial aid grants. The formula provided by Congress for calculating the distribution of funds to institutions excludes students who were exclusively enrolled in distance education courses. Additionally, the emergency financial aid grants to students are for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, and students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs would not have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. 

 

Where can institutions locate additional resources and information related to emergency financial aid grants to students?

CARES Act grant resources and guidance are located on the Office of Postsecondary Education's webpage: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/caresact.html

Contact:

atcccovid19@alextech.edu
320-762-4594