On Feb. 18, William Jewell College’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services notified students that they would begin processing $1200 financial aid grants from the recently-available Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) within the next few weeks.
According to the email, around 300 undergraduate students demonstrating “exceptional need” will be contacted in upcoming weeks regarding how to collect the one-time payments. Unlike the CARES act, the College is required to prioritize payments for students who are the most in need of financial assistance. To determine eligibility, the Office of Financial Aid stated they reviewed students’ Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The payments are allocated funds from HEERF II by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of 2021. The CRRSAA was signed into law by former President Donald Trump Dec. 27, 2020 and HEERF II funds were made available to institutions of higher education Jan. 14, 2021.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Jan. 14 press release, the CRRSAA allocated $82 billion for education, with $20.5 billion awarded to public and non-profit colleges and $681 million awarded to proprietary schools. The press release further specifies that the CRRSAA requires that proprietary schools only use the funds to provide financial aid to students.
With funds from HEERF I by the CARES act, the Office of Financial Aid was able to distribute $580 to each eligible enrolled student during the spring 2020 semester. However, only about 300 students will receive payments from the CRRSAA’s HEERF II in upcoming weeks because of new eligibility requirements.
The Office of Financial Aid specified that students did not need to be recipients or qualify for the Federal Pell Grant in order to be deemed eligible for the payment. However, the overall amount of funds allocated to Jewell was formulated based on the College’s percentage share of Federal Pell Grant recipients to the amount of recipients attending private institutions as a whole, as well as the ratio of non-Pell Grant recipients to the total amount of non-recipients and the percent of students who were enrolled in distance learning. The U.S. Department of Education used approximate volumes provided by the Federal Office of Student Aid for the 2018-19 award year to calculate appropriate amounts to send to each institution of higher education.
According to the “Methodology for Calculating Allocations Under Section 314(a)(4)” for the CRRSAA:
“3% ($680,914,080) of the funds will be awarded to proprietary institutions of higher education (IHEs), as defined in sections 102(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), based on three formula factors:
- 75% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total (i.e., headcount) enrollment and full time equivalent (FTE) enrollment;
- 23% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of students who were not Federal Pell Grant recipients and who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total enrollment and FTE enrollment; and
- 2% of the funds will be awarded to IHEs based on each IHE’s relative share of enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients who were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses prior to the coronavirus emergency, split evenly between total enrollment and FTE enrollment.”
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based financial aid grants to low-income undergraduate students as a way to promote access to higher education. Students can demonstrate their need for federal financial aid by completing the FAFSA after it opens annually Oct. 1. FAFSA will generate an estimated family contribution (EFC) score that indicates the amount of financial assistance a student might receive from their family or assets to help pay for college. Students with low EFC scores generally qualify for the Federal Pell Grant.