Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting--
Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students
Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”)), Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (March 27, 2020), directs institutions receiving funds under Section 18004 of the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the Secretary) a report to the Secretary describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”). Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act requires institutions to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received from Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide 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 child care). On April 9, 2020, the Department published documents related to the Emergency Financial Aid Grants, including a letter from Secretary Betsy DeVos, a form Certification and Agreement for signing and returning by institutions to access the funds, and a list of institutional allocations under 18004(a)(1).
The Certification and Agreement directs each institution applying for HEERF funds to comply with Section 18004(e) of the CARES Act and submit an initial report (the “30-day Fund Report”) to the Secretary thirty (30) days from the date of the institution’s Certification and Agreement to the Department. The Department will provide instructions for providing the required information to the Secretary in the near future. In the meantime, each HEERF participating institution must post the information listed below on the institution’s primary website. The Department would like to receive the most current information from the date when the institution received its allocation for emergency financial aid grants to students, and the institution should have received its allocation within a few days after submitting the Certification and Agreement. Accordingly, the following information must appear in a format and location that is easily accessible to the public 30 days after the date when the institution received its allocation under 18004(a)(1) and updated every 45 days thereafter:
An acknowledgement that Illinois College of Optometry signed and returned to the Department 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.
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.
ICO has received $429,835 of which 50% was required to be used to grant emergency funds to our students.
The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).
ICO paid a total of $251,696 in emergency grants to students.
The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
ICO provided grants to 390 federally eligible students.
In recognition of our international student population also experiencing COVID related emergency costs, ICO additionally used our own institutional funds to supply grants to those not eligible under the federal program.
The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
ICO provided 390 federally eligible students with Emergency Financial Aid grant funds under this Section.
The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
ICO divided funds equally across our student population ensuring that every federally eligible student received federal dollars and then ICO matched for our non-eligible students out of our ICO institutional budget. Since all of our students are graduate students and were impacted by the program changes necessitated by the pandemic we elected to utilize the most equitable manner of administering the funds.
Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
ICO provided notifications to students that these funds were made available to them to offset costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic that were incurred as a result of increases in educationally related expenses related to travel, increased costs for foods and personal items and supplies related to the transition to an off-campus learning environment.