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CARES Act Funding and HEERF Emergency Grants

Emergency Grants for Students

The Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes the one-time Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) for higher education institutions to help address the immediate and urgent impacts on our students and colleges.

Unfortunately, there is not enough money from the federal government for all of our students, so we will be focusing on making sure our neediest students who meet federal requirements for these funds are supported first.

These grants will range between $100 and $400, based on a student's financial need and the number of units they were enrolled in this spring. We know that many students' financial needs will extend beyond the current semester, so additional resources will also be distributed to enrolled and qualifying students in the fall.

We are committed to supporting students who have acute financial needs, including providing similar direct payments for undocumented students who are not eligible for CARES Act funding. Students may also be eligible for other federal funds from the CARES Act, as part of its Assistance for American Workers and Families program. View the full Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guide to COVID-19 economic stimulus relief funds and see what steps you can take to access funds if you haven't already.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CARES/HEERF and where did the funding for emergency grants come from?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. One aspect of the act was the creation of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). HEERF provides funds to institutions for emergency grants to students whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the HEERF Emergency Grants website to learn more.

How much HEERF funding did Los Rios receive?

Los Rios has been allocated $13 million to provide Emergency Grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are intended to help with academically related expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare.

Los Rios' allocation was determined by the US Department of Education based on the number of Pell Grant-eligible students enrolled on campus (70% of the weight) and the overall enrollment (30% of the weight). Given the weighting, Congress clearly intends the funds to go to students with the most financial need.

Are all of the funds being distributed immediately?

We know that many students' financial needs will extend beyond the spring 2020 semester, so additional resources will also be distributed to enrolled and qualifying students in the fall 2020 semester. The federal government has allowed up to a year to distribute these funds for this reason.

Additionally, we are exploring ways to use some remaining funds to supplement our Los Rios Colleges Foundation Student Emergency Fund program for additional acute student needs. We expect more information on this process during the fall semester.

Who is eligible for HEERF emergency grants?

There are three general eligibility criteria for these funds:

  1. Students must have been enrolled in classes in the spring 2020 semester on February 3, 2020
  2. Students must be eligible to receive federal financial aid with demonstrated "Unmet Need"
  3. Students must not be enrolled in a completely online program as of March 13, 2020

Per guidance from the US Department of Education, Los Rios will be utilizing FAFSA data on "Unmet Need" (the estimated cost of attendance minus a student's reported access to financial resource, per their FAFSA) to determine eligibility.

Currently enrolled students who are not eligible for federal HEERF emergency grants may be able to receive different emergency grants supported by other sources of institutional funding.

If a student is not eligible for the HEERF emergency grants, will the college still help them?

Yes, the Los Rios Colleges are committed to supporting students who have acute financial needs, including DACA and undocumented students who are not eligible for CARES Act funding. Students who need financial support should contact their college's financial aid office.

Does a student need to fill out a FAFSA to receive the CARES/HEERF emergency grants?

Yes, per guidance from the US Department of Education, Los Rios will be utilizing FAFSA data on "Unmet Need" (the estimated cost of attendance minus a student's reported access to financial resource, per their FAFSA) to determine eligibility. Since the majority of our federal allocation was based on the number of Pell Grant-eligible students currently enrolled in Los Rios, we are required to use financial need – as determined through the FAFSA formula – to determine eligibility for grants.

Will students receive the emergency grant even if they owe Los Rios (or their college) money?

Yes – if a student is eligible for an emergency grant, then they will receive the money even if they have current financial holds or owe the campus fees or fines.

Does it matter how many units a student is taking?

Emergency grants are to be pro-rated based on the number of units in which a student is enrolled in spring 2020 and fall 2020.

Does a student need to apply for the emergency grant?

Eligible students will receive the emergency grants automatically and are not required to take any additional action. Emergency grants will be automatically disbursed to students through the Financial Aid Office. No application is needed.

How much emergency grant money will a student receive?

Grant amounts vary by student based on the number of units that a student was enrolled in as of February 3, 2020 for the spring 2020 semester and August 11, 2020 for the fall 2020 semester:

  • If a student was enrolled in 0.5 to 5.5 units, then they will receive $100.
  • If a student was enrolled in 6 to 8.5 units, then they will receive $200.
  • If a student was enrolled in 9 to 11.5 units, then they will receive $300.
  • If a student was enrolled in 12 or more units, then they will receive $400.

The amount of HEERF funding that institutions received varied based on the Department of Education's allocation formula. That means the amount of the emergency grants at the Los Rios colleges will not be the same as at other colleges and universities, even in the Sacramento area. Each college and university is required to develop its own strategy for disbursing the funds to students enrolled at their campus based on federal eligibility guidelines.

How will a student know if they are going to receive an emergency grant?

Eligible students will receive a notification in their eServices message center upon confirmation of their eligibility.

How will a student receive their emergency grant?

Emergency grants will be disbursed to most students though Los Rios' refund partner, BankMobile. If you have not yet set up your direct deposit or informed BankMobile how you would like to receive your funds, then use the following directions. If no refund preference is selected, then it can delay the receipt of your funds.

To select how you would like your money delivered:

  1. Visit RefundSelection.com
  2. Enter your BankMobile Personal Code or choose to get an instant personal code
  3. Choose your preferred delivery method

If you do not have a BankMobile account or a social security number (SSN), or if you cannot open a bank account, then your funds will be mailed to you at the address listed on your student record. To confirm or change your address:

  1. Login to eServices
  2. Select Profile
  3. Select Addresses
  4. Add or update your address

When will students receive their emergency grant?

We expect disbursements to begin the week of May 8 for spring 2020 and the week of August 11 for the fall 2020 semester. For students who have selected a refund preference (direct deposit), emergency grants should only take a couple of days to deposit. For eligible students who are not enrolled in BankMobile, checks will be mailed to you at the address listed on your student record on May 8. If you received a message in your eServices Message Center confirming your eligibility, then please allow up to ten days for the receipt of your check.

How can a student use emergency grant money?

The grant should be used for academic-related expenses incurred due to COVID-19. Examples include expenses related to food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare.

If a student has not submitted a FAFSA, then is it too late to receive a grant?

We encourage all students to complete the FAFSA for both the current year (2020-2021). Though you may not be eligible for the initial disbursements of these emergency grants now, you may be eligible for CARES/HEERF emergency grants and other funds in the future.

Completing the FAFSA will allow students to be considered for many kinds of financial aid.

If you are not a US citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen, then you can still access other financial aid opportunities by submitting the California Dream Act Application (CADAA).

Who can I contact if I have questions?

For basic questions about your eligibility for HEERF emergency grants, contact your college financial aid office.

If a student doesn’t need this money and would prefer to donate it to other students, can they?

Absolutely! If the COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted your financial situation, then you can choose to donate to the Los Rios Colleges Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Fund to directly support other students in need. We cannot redirect your HEERF emergency grant to this fund, but once you receive the funds, you can support others by making a personal donation.

To donate, visit the Los Rios Colleges Foundation website.

Official Reporting and Notification Requirements

CARES Act Student Portion Reporting Requirements

To keep students and the general public informed, and to be in compliance with Section 18004 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act"), the Los Rios Community College District publishes the following seven required information areas.

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution 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 four Los Rios Colleges, American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College, and Sacramento City College, acknowledge that they signed and returned to the Department of Education the Certification and Agreement and intend to distribute 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
  2. 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.

    Los Rios, as a part of the CARES Act, has received $13,547,260 for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
  3. 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).

    As of September 30, 2020, $10,232,200 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants has been distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  4. 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.

    The total number of students eligible to participate in the program 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) was 21,002 and 12,432, for the Spring 2020 semester and Fall 2020 semester, respectively.
  5. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

    As of September 30, 2020, the total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was 21,002 and 12,432, for the Spring 2020 semester and Fall 2020 semester, respectively.
  6. 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.

    Per guidance from the US Department of Education, Los Rios utilized the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data on "Unmet Need" (the estimated cost of attendance minus a student's reported access to financial resource, per their FAFSA) to determine student eligibility. These grants ranged between $100 and $400, based on the student's financial need and the number of units the student was enrolled in the applicable Spring 2020 or Fall 2020 semester.
  7. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

    Emergency financial aid grant information is included in the Remote Campus Information for Students and Emergency Grants for Students.