What Is the HEERF?
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) is part of three acts passed by Congress and signed by Presidents Trump and Biden: the CARES Act, the CRRSAA and the ARP.
The HEERF provides funds to colleges based on enrollment and Pell Recipient count, among other criteria. Some of these funds are designated to be used for student aid/support.
What Is This Report?
Colleges that received HEERF funds are required to report on how they use the funds. The Department of Education instructed colleges to publish a report on their websites to provide this information. This page includes GBSC’s reports.
GBSC’s HEERF Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students
- GBSC signed and returned to the Department of Education the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students under the CARES Act. The Department later extended this agreement to subsequent HEERF grants.
- As required, GBSC used 50% of the funds allocated to us under CARES Act Section 18004(a)(1) to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. This 50% was $77,498, 100% of which came from federal sources, and the distribution was made by 5/15/2020.
Since then, GBSC has been allocated an additional $77,498 for students under the CRRSAA, then an additional $265,383 for students under the ARP.
- As of November 1, 2021, we have distributed a total of $380,088.40 of our allocated student-only funds. This includes the $77, 498 under the CARES Act, $42,703.89 in June 2021 (see below), plus $259,886.51 in October 2021 (see below).
- GBSC continues to evaluate uses of designated student-aid funds to help students. In July 2021, we determined that 590 students were enrolled in the terms covered (SP20-SU21). We have not yet identified how many of these students may be eligible for funds by eliminating students enrolled only in ineligible courses, who do not have remaining need after existing distributions or who do not appear to have need. We anticipate that the total eligible student number will be fewer than 590.
In June 2021, GBSC followed the Department of Education’s encouragement in ARP FAQ #26. We identified graduated or withdrawn students whose remaining account balance could block them from receiving a diploma and/or transcript — that is, students whose balances could hinder their academic or employment progress. Of these, we prioritized need by identifying students who were Pell eligible or, in the case of international students, had already been designated as high need through our WTLA process. We also included dual-credit students to give them an opportunity to identify as high need by providing additional information.
In September 2021, GBSC opened an application for all enrolled students, with email invitations sent to all of them. Students could request a professional judgement review and/or apply for emergency aid. In applying for emergency aid, they indicated allowable “cost of attendance” costs for which they needed funds. They also were able to report on their level of financial need (pandemic-related emergencies and need-based aid eligibility).
- Initially with the CARES Act funds, 123 students received funds. Amounts were determined as follows: 50% of the funds were equally divided among campus resident students, who were determined to be more affected by the shutdown; 50% of the funds were equally divided among all eligible students.
In June 2021, we offered funds to discharge students’ unpaid balances as encouraged in ARP FAQ #26. Forty-six students were contacted by email and offered this relief; they replied to give their affirmative written consent and, in the case of dual-credit students, to attest to meeting the need requirement. Eighteen students gave affirmative written consent before July 1, 2021 to have their balances discharged.
In October 2021, GBSC distributed an additional $259,886.51 in funds to students. A total of 117 students requested funds via the September 2021 application form. We were able to award funds to every applicant, up to their total request or a maximum award of $2500. Funds were distributed to students by check or by posting to their accounts, based on their preference as indicated on the application.
- In a cover letter to each student for the initial CARES Act funds distribution, we included the following information and guidance.
As you may know, the US Congress passed, and Pres. Trump signed the CARES Act to support response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the CARES Act is designated for financial aid for students who meet Title IV eligibility requirements, were taking classes on campus prior to the COVID-19 emergency and experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.
Specifically, GBSC was given funds to award to students for expenses eligible under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.
Because of your enrollment in campus courses, you had access to technology, affordable food, in-person library resources and some utilities, all of which are not available now on campus for you.
On October 14, all recipients of the October 2021 aid received an email from the institution. In addition to (1) the specific amount each student and (2) confirmation of the disbursement method, the email included the following information and guidance.
These funds are provided by the US Department of Education as directed in two different pieces of legislation, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA, or HEERF II) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP, or HEERF III). GBSC has agreed to receive and use the allocated funds as directed by the Department of Education.
According to guidance from the US Department of Education, “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.”
In contacting students about possible balance discharge, we notified students of this opportunity and their remaining balance, which would be covered. We included in the notification to students that they did not have to accept this, but could choose to decline these funds and be eligible for funds at a later date.