Higher Ed Emergency Relief Grants

As a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by congress in April 2020, the federal government established and funded the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). With this relief fund, institutions of higher education were awarded aid according to a federal formula considering size of institution and types of students enrolled. HEERF stipulated 50 percent of these funds to be directed towards students in the form of emergency financial aid grants. It stated, these funds should be used “for the sole and exclusive purpose of providing emergency financial aid grants to students for their 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 expenses.” According to the act, only Title IV eligible students are eligible to receive these emergency grants, eliminating from consideration international and undocumented students, as well as students failing to make satisfactory academic progress. In addition, the act specifically excludes online students from receiving these funds. Lee University signed and agrees to utilize this funding as stimulated by the CARES Act.

Lee University received approval from the US Department of Education on April 20, 2020 and was awarded $1,759,279 to distribute in the form of emergency financial aid grants to students in need. In order to be considered for these funds, students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and must be eligible for Title IV (federal) aid. During the Spring 2020 semester, there were approximately 3000 students who met that criteria. Students with demonstrated unmet financial need during the Coronavirus crisis were considered first in the awarding of these emergency grants. Unmet need is determined through the federal aid awarding process, and includes factors such as total cost of attendance (less credits applied to the students room/board as a result of the Lee’s Coronavirus response), awarded financial aid, and estimated family contribution (EFC). Students with demonstrated need were awarded grants of $500, $1000 and $1500, depending on need. In total, 1341 students were awarded a total of $1,396,500. These students were notified via email on May 4, 2020, and the university began the process of distributing monies to students through direct deposit or mailed check the next day.

As a second effort to get emergency funds to students who might be experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19 that is not identifiable through the initial awarding process, an Emergency Grant Application was created and made available to students. Students were notified on May 7 of the availability of additional emergency funds to help cover expenses related to COVID-19 disruption and were directed to complete the Emergency Grant Application by May 15. Priority will be given to students with the greatest demonstrated need.

The institution will award the remaining funds to eligible students who have a demonstrated need until the funds are no longer available. As of June 23, 2020, there was $68,279 available. As of September 30, 2020, there was $41,279 available. As of December 31, 2020, there is $14,779 available. As of March 31, 2021, no additional CARES funding is available.

Any questions regarding the availability of emergency grant funds or the process in which these funds have been awarded should be directed to the Financial Aid Office at (423) 614-8000 or finaid@leeuniversity.edu.


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