The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds

How GW Distributed the Federal Government’s Emergency Financial Aid Relief Grants to Our Students

The George Washington University accepted $9,118,529 from the U.S. Department of Education after Congress passed the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). In order to receive the first half of the funding ($4,559,265), the university entered into a Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students with the Department of Education which governs the use of the funds.

GW also accepted the second half of the funding ($4,559,264) under HEERF from the Department of Education for costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.  The second allocation is governed by the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Institutional Portion.  

GW provided an update to the campus community about the university accepting this federal funding and announced the distribution process to students.

As an education institution whose core mission is to educate tomorrow's leaders, it is our responsibility--to the best of our ability--to provide students with the resources necessary to help our students pursue their education. While universities may use half of the funding for institutional purposes, GW distributed all $9,118,529 directly to our students in the form of emergency financial aid. 

 



GW's Methodology for Distribution
GW applied 100 percent of the student aid and institutional portion of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, totaling $9,118,169. These funds were issued to 5,990 eligible students as direct monetary grants.

During the academic year 2019-20, an estimated 10,200 students who were enrolled during the Spring 2020 semester had a completed and verified FAFSA on file with the university and were considered to be eligible for federal financial aid per the Department of Education's guidelines. 

Under the terms of the Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants, the Department of Education granted each university the authority to make its own decision on how to distribute the federal funds to its students. Using federal methodology to calculate Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,600 or less, GW determined that 4,638 of the enrolled students during Spring 2020 who had a completed FAFSA on file are students in the most need. For these 4,638 eligible students, which include undergraduate, graduate and professional students, the university calculated a fixed monetary grant of $1,868 per student. 

In addition, the remaining funds from the institutional allocation, and any other remaining undistributed funds, were distributed to students through an open application process. The application process was made available to the remaining Spring 2020 enrolled students who are eligible to participate in federally funded programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and who were not deemed automatically eligible based on the university's determination of how best to distribute the Higher Education Emergency Relief grants to students. Eligible students had the opportunity to apply for a $500 fixed one-time monetary grant. Applications were accepted beginning June 8, 2020. The funds from this application process were be disbursed on a first-available basis until funds were exhausted.

 

Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional students with a completed and verified FAFSA on file with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,601 or more and who were enrolled in spring 2020 were notified on June 8 of the opportunity to apply through GW’s open application process to receive a one-time grant of $500 for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations during the pandemic. Eligible students were notified by email prior to the application process opening. The notification provided information on how the application process would be conducted. 

 



Grant Status:
This section was updated beginning May 25 in accordance with the instructions outlined in the CARES Act.  This is a final report, as GW has distributed all of the available funding that was allocated. This includes $4,559,265 for PR/Award #: P425E202246 (student portion) and PR/Award#: P425F201949 (institutional portion) as reported here: HEERF Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting form

5,990

total Number of students that received heerf grants
as of 7 / 8 / 2020

$9,118,168

total Amount of heerf grants distributed to students

as of 7 / 8 / 2020

 



Frequently Asked Questions
 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide relief from the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations because of the pandemic and to assist institutions with costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. The Department of Education is allocating funding directly to colleges and universities and tasked the institutions with the responsibility of determining how the grants will be distributed to their students, and how the amount of each student grant is calculated. For more information about this federal act, see the Department of Education's FAQ page

GW received this funding from the federal government based on the percentage of Pell-eligible students who are enrolled at GW. At GW, about 15 percent of our enrolled undergraduate students are receiving a federally subsidized Pell-grant to help pay for their college education since their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) per year to their college education is less than $5,600.  

Additional information about the CARES Act and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund can be found here

With the funding that GW has received from the federal government's CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the university will distribute one-time monetary grants to provide financial assistance to students with the greatest need and who have been impacted during the Spring 2020 semester because of the disruption of campus operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Students determined to be automatically eligible for the HEERF grant by the university will be provided a one-time, non-taxable monetary grant of $1,868 through this federal fund.  

Students who are not considered to be automatically eligible, but who meet the criteria for federal financial aid and were enrolled in Spring 2020 can submit an application for a one-time fixed non-taxable grant of $500. 

The Department of Education has outlined that this grant should be used to help students pay for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations, such as technology, health care, childcare, course materials, housing, and food. 

The Department of Education has provided guidance that only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) and who have met Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements this academic year, may be considered for a HEERF Grant.  Additionally, because the emergency financial aid grants to students are for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs for Spring 2020, are not eligible. 

GW used the nationally recognized federal methodology to calculate a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) level to determine the greatest financial need of undergraduates, and its equivalent level at the graduate and professional student level. In the spirit that the university received this federal funding, the university used $5,600 or less as the EFC level, which is the equivalent EFC amount that determines if an undergraduate student is eligible for a Pell Grant. GW is using data from a student's submitted and verified 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to make this determination.  

Students who were not determined to be eligible for the $1,868 HEERF Grant based on the above metrics as GW outlined it would disperse student emergency relief funds, but who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 pandemic and who are eligible for Title IV Federal financial aid programs, may apply starting June 8 to receive a one-time monetary grant of $500, out of the remaining HEERF funds available.  

GW students eligible to receive a federal HEERF grant have been notified via email. These students will receive a one-time, non-taxable $1,868 grant. Students who meet eligibility requirements and submit an application through an open process will be considered to receive a one-time, non-taxable $500 grant. These $500 grants will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are exhausted.

We anticipate that the relief funds for the students who GW deemed automatically eligible will be available for distribution starting early June.  Students will be notified by GW via email the week of May 25.  

Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional students with an completed and verified FAFSA on field with a Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,601 or more and who were enrolled in spring 2020 will have the opportunity on June 8 to apply through GW’s open application process to receive a one-time grant of $500 for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations during the pandemic. Eligible students will be notified by email prior to the application process opening. The notification will provide information on how the application process will be conducted.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, these funds are not considered taxable income. Also, these federal relief funds do not count against any financial aid a student is currently receiving.  

If you have been notified via email by GW of your eligibility to receive this federal HEERF grant and have subsequently accepted it, GW will disburse the monetary grant within approximately 7 days. For those students with bank account information in their Student Accounts eBill refund profile, GW will disburse your funds electronically to your bank account. Instructions for how to update your GWEB information is included in the email the university sent to you and can also be found here

If you do not currently have bank account information in your saved GWEB profile, GW will mail a check to your current address on record. Confirm or update your bank account and your current address in GWEB to prevent delays. Instructions to update your current address can be found here.

If you are awarded a grant you will be required to review and agree to the requirements as outlined by the federal government and certify that you will use the funds for the purpose for which the grant is intended. You will have the option to accept or decline the grant.  

Students who were deemed automatically eligible by GW to receive the federal relief fund and chose to decline the $1,868 monetary grant or failed to respond by the deadline stated in their email will be considered to have forfeited the offer.  

Also, any student deemed automatically eligible for a HEERF grant is not eligible to submit an application for the one-time $500 fixed monetary HEERF grant. 

In order to receive a HEERF Grant, a student has to meet GW's methodology for disbursing the federal government's relief funds as outlined in the FAQ ‘What is a HEERF grant.”

Students who are not eligible for federal financial aid programs are ineligible for federal HEERF grants. Students who have incomplete or deficient FAFSA applications or students who did not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements this academic year are not eligible. 

If you are an undocumented or DACA student in need of emergency financial assistance because of unanticipated essential expenses that you occurred as a result of the pandemic, you may submit an application to be considered for funding through the donor-funded GW CARES Student Assistance Fund here, as funds become available.

If you are an international student in need of emergency financial assistance because of unanticipated essential expenses that you occurred as a result of the pandemic, you may submit an application to be considered for funding through the donor-funded GW CARES Student Assistance Fund here, as funds become available.

Students enrolled exclusively in an online program as of March 13, 2020, are not eligible for HEERF Grant.

Non-degree students and high school students enrolled in the GW Early College program are not eligible for the HEERF Grant.

Yes, if you have a FAFSA on file with GW and meet the eligibility requirements for a HEERF grant as outlined by GW in the FAQ, “What is a HEERF Grant.” 

Veterans who have a completed FAFSA on file for the 2019-20 academic year and who meet the GW determined eligibility requirements of having an EFC of $5,600 or less are eligible for an automatic grant. Veterans not meeting this criteria but who do have a completed FAFSA on file are eligible to apply for a fixed one-time monetary grant of $500 through the application process available on June 8. 

GW launched the GW Cares Student Assistance fund in March to support students who are in immediate need of temporary, short-term, financial assistance to help cover unanticipated essential expenses that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. The GW Cares Student Assistance Fund is being supported by the contributions of alumni, faculty, staff and other community members. The money provided through this fund is designated to off-set a short-term financial need and is not intended to replace or supplement financial aid. Students who may find themselves facing a financial need during this time may submit an application to be considered for the GW Cares Student Assistance Fund  here, as funds become available. If you have questions about this GW donor funded program, please email [email protected]. Additional emergency funding that may be available to students can also be found here.

At this time, we have no information that the federal government intends to authorize additional HEERF funds. 

Undergraduate students and/or their families who are experiencing a significant change in financial circumstances because of a student or family member's job loss that would dramatically alter a family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) should submit the 2020-21 Appeal Form to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Please include a letter to provide an explanation of your change in circumstances. 

GW requires the FAFSA to be submitted each year for students seeking financial assistance. If you have not done so already for the upcoming academic year 2020-21, complete the FAFSA and submit required documentation. More information can be found here.

Graduate students seeking financial assistance should be sure to submit a FAFSA if you have not already done so. More information can be found here.

Students enrolled in GW Law should contact their school's Financial Aid Office for more information regarding the appeal process.

Students enrolled in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences should contact their school's Financial Aid Office for more information regarding the appeal process.


Contact Us
If you have a question about GW's distribution of the federal government's CARES Act: HIgher Education Emergency Relief fund not addressed on this page, please email: [email protected].

 

Updated as of 2:30 pm, October 21, 2020.