Emergency Financial Aid Grant for Students under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Section 18004(a)(1)of the CARES Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136 (March 27, 2020), authorizes the Secretary of Education to allocate formula grant funds to higher education institutions. Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act requires each institution to use no less than fifty percent of the funds received to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
On April 22, 2020, Westfield State University signed and returned to the Department of Education 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. Westfield State University was allocated a total $4,512,060, of which $2,256,030 must be paid directly to students as part of the CARES Act.
As of March 31, 2021, Westfield State University has paid the full $2,256,030 to students in the form of block grants and for funds requested through the Westfield State University CARES Act application. The funds were paid over two academic years, with the following number of students eligible for the funds:
- Of the approximately 5,450 students who were active for the Spring 2020 at Westfield State, it was determined that 3,924 (# of block grant students) were eligible under the guidelines set by the Department of Education to receive funding through the CARES Act.
- Of the approximately 5,704 students who were active for the Fall 2020 semester at Westfield State, it was determined that 3,778 students were eligible under the guidelines set by the Department of Education to receive funding through the CARES Act.
As of March 31, 2021, 4,081 students have received funding under the CARES Act. For the funds disbursed prior to the start of the Fall 2020 semester, Westfield State had communicated to students who were not eligible, and allowed students who could not be verified to be Title IV eligible to submit documentation showing eligibility by June 2, 2020.
Westfield State University strived to award funds to students as quickly as possible. To ensure this process was completed fairly and equitably, the University issued Block Grants to students to assist with their expenses during the pandemic. Block Grants were awarded in two phases:
Students enrolled at the University received block grants to assist with expenses related to the shift in online learning. Under this plan block grants were awarded in the following amounts:
- $500 – Undergraduate students who have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that would qualify them for a Pell Grant (under 5576)
- $400 – all other students, including Graduate Students
Students enrolled at the University who lived on campus received block grants to assist with expenses related to the shift in online learning for the first month on the semester. Under this plan block grants were awarded in the following amount:
- $300 – Undergraduate students who completed the financial aid process, received a Pell Grant, and were residing on campus as of 10/07/202
The University is committed to meeting the needs of students who have expenses above and beyond the block grant. Students are eligible to receive funding to reimburse their expenses, up to $5,500, as long as they certify they have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the novel coronavirus. Examples of expenses related to the disruption of campus operations include, but are not limited to:
- Food (groceries for yourself, groceries for dependent family members, etc.)
- Housing (rent, temporary housing, etc.)
- Course Materials
- Technology (including internet, laptop, printer, etc.)
- Health Care
- Child Care
For students with additional expenses that are approved, the block grant will be subtracted from the total amount of technology expenses the student has submitted.
The University made the determination that students who met the following criteria are eligible to receive funding:
- Filed a FAFSA for the 2019-2020 Academic Year
- Are not enrolled in an Online Only Program
- Are currently enrolled at the University
- Are making Satisfactory Academic Progress
- Do not have any flags on their FAFSA that would make them ineligible for financial aid
Students will be notified via email if they are eligible for the block grant. If a student is deemed not eligible, the student will receive further communication outlining the reason.
Further, for students submitting the application, they must:
- Be able to demonstrate they have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus
- Complete the application detailing the expenses
- Sign and Date the application
The deadline to file an application to receive funds beyond the block grant was June 2, 2020.
A Frequently Asked Questions document has been created and is available here.
If you have questions regarding this application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Quarterly CARES ACT Report - 9/30/2020
- Quarterly CARES ACT Report - 12/31/2020
- Quarterly CARES ACT Report - 3/31/2021
- Quarterly CARES ACT Report - 6/30/2021
For more information on Westfield State University’s plan and rationale for establishing the May 2020 Block Grants, please click here.
For more information on Westfield State University’s plan and rationale for establishing the October 2020 Block Grants, please click here.