BOONE — Appalachian State University officials are working to determine which students are eligible to receive part of the $7,963,966 allocated for student aid as a portion of the funding the university received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Interim Provost Heather Norris announced during the April 13 virtual meeting of App State’s Faculty Senate that the university would be receiving $15,927,932 in CARES Act funding — 50 percent of which was required to go to direct student aid. The $7,963,966 in student funds will be provided directly to students in the form of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants, according to the university.
According to university spokesperson Megan Hayes, all of the $7,963,966 would be allocated directly to students, and there are no administrative costs coming out of that amount. The HEERF is an emergency relief grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help enrolled students cover expenses they experienced due to the campus disruption caused by COVID-19, and is not a loan that needs to be paid back.
The university stated that the HEERF grants must be used for expenses related to a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, relocation expenses, health care, child care and transportation. To be eligible for the funding, students must have been enrolled as a degree-seeking, main campus student — not online — in at least one spring 2020 course on or after March 13; meet satisfactory academic progress requirements set by the university; and meet federal financial aid eligibility requirements.
As of May 18, approximately 13,714 students were eligible to receive HEERF funding. The university stated that it has received 3,722 total requests for grant funding and that all of those students have been assisted, amounting to $1,302,700 awarded of the $7,963,966 so far.
“As students who are not currently eligible complete their FAFSA documentation, we expect to see these numbers increase,” Hayes said. “Those who become eligible will be notified as soon as their eligibility is determined.”
Those who are not eligible for HEERF funding can apply for assistance through the university’s Mountaineer Emergency Fund, which offers short-term grants to students to help cover expenses such as child care, food, prescriptions, housing, books and other needs. Hayes said that the university’s advancement team continues to prioritize fundraising to support the Mountaineer Emergency Fund. As of May 18, the university had allocated $384,247 to 852 students through the fund.
“We are working to streamline the application for the Mountaineer Emergency Fund and Mountaineer Emergency Fund CARES Act Supplements so students only have to complete one application,” Hayes said.
Hayes stated that universities have been given eligibility and compliance guidance as well as flexibility with distribution from the Department of Education. Eligible students who can demonstrate their qualifying expenses can receive an initial award of $350. Additional allocations of up to $1,500 are available for students who meet Department of Education criteria, have additional qualifying expenses and who apply for Mountaineer Emergency Fund CARES Act Supplements, according to Hayes.
According to the university, processing begins immediately upon the submission of an application. A HEERF grant will be called a “refund,” and refunds are typically awarded within three to five business days, the university stated.
The application for the HEERF grants will be open through July 31. The university encouraged graduating seniors to apply as soon as possible. For more information or to apply for a HEERF grant, visit www.appstate.edu/go/coronavirus/cares-grants.
Hayes said the other half of the $15,927,932 that the university is to receive is the instructional portion of the allotment. The instruction funding is “intended to provide relief for institutions of higher education that incurred costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus,” Hayes stated. The Department of Education provided some information for how these funds may and may not be used.
“We are currently working on a specific plan for what this will mean for App State,” Hayes said.
Anna Oakes contributed reporting to this article.