Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) - Policies and Procedures

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II & III (HEERF) – Policies & Procedures

Public Notice – July 1, 2021

This public notice is posted on ECPI University’s website (https://www.ecpi.edu/student-consumer-services/HEERF) in accordance with U.S. Department of Education guidance.

  1. ECPI University signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the HEERF II & III Applications, Certifications, and Agreements. All funding under this program is to be distributed as emergency grants to students with exceptional need.
  2. ECPI University has been authorized to draw up to $15,586,347 ($9,780,468 HEERF II, $5,805,879 HEERF III) and award to students for a period of one year from the date funds become available.
  3. This funding is estimated to be distributed incrementally to students by May 2022 or sooner. As of June 30, 2021, $4,964,292 of the $15,586,347 allocation has been distributed to 4,490 students.
  4. To logistically manage these significant funds in a fair manner, the institution will make awards for each student’s subsequent (or first) academic year award period. This funding source is included in the University Finance Plan (UFP). This means every student would receive consideration over a 7-month period, and continue after that until all funds are disbursed or the grant deadline is reached. Disbursements will be scheduled at the beginning of the student’s academic year to coincide with the timing of other financial assistance payments.
  5. ECPI University is evaluating exceptional need based on the results of the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who do not complete a FAFSA may request an assessment, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis using information similar to that collected on the FAFSA. Exceptional need is relative to all students attending institutions of higher education, rather than a measure of need relative to other students attending ECPI University. With ~60% of students eligible for Federal Pell Grants, and the majority being career-changing adults, a high percentage of students have exceptional need.
    1. Awards will be presented on the UFP as noted above in the following amounts, and may be modified based on available funding. After all students have had consideration for their next academic year, remaining funds will dictate award amounts for the remainder of the grant period.
    2. $1,200 - Pell Grant Eligible EFC (eligibility index from FAFSA)
    3. $600 - EFC 5800 -10,000
    4. $400 - EFC 10,001 - 15,000
  6. As provided for in the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance, the UFP includes a student choice to apply this funding to tuition, which in most cases will reduce student loan debt. The UFP presents a student’s UFP with and without this funding applied to tuition. Reducing debt will often be the student’s best use of this funding. Many students have received multiple prior HEERF disbursements that often were used to cover one-time costs of transitioning to remote learning. Timing of disbursements will approximate Title IV timeline requirements for resolution of credit balances.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) - Policies and Procedures

Public notice (updated April 9, 2021 – FINAL NOTICE)

This public notice is posted on ECPI University’s main website (https://www.ecpi.edu/student-consumer-services/HEERF) in accordance with U.S. Department of Education guidance.

  1. ECPI University signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the HEERF Certification and Agreement indicating at least 50% of any funding it will use under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act will provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
  2. ECPI University has been authorized to draw up to $16,762,368 in HEERF funding. At least half ($8,381,184) of any funds used by the institution will be disbursed directly to eligible students.
  3. As of January 10, 2021, ~$8,000,000 has been disbursed to students (95%).
  4. Disbursements were made to every active student on the disbursement dates who met the U.S. Dept. of Education eligibility requirements. ECPI University has approximately 9,500 students enrolled each term.
  5. See item 6 for details on counts of eligible students and numbers of students receiving disbursements each term.
  6. ECPI University’s first goal was to make an initial disbursement to all students who met federal criteria as soon as possible. Students who have not been awarded Title IV financial assistance, or attended online courses only during Spring 2020 are not eligible, consistent with Department of Education directives. New starts who enroll to attend at a ground campus will be eligible when active in courses at the time disbursements are made to students, provided they have also been determined eligible for Title IV federal assistance. In order to support students throughout periods of high COVID impact, disbursements will be allocated each term (module) while funding lasts.
    1. $2,732,100, approximately 30% of the minimum allocation to be awarded for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, was disbursed the week of May 4th, 2020 to currently active students for the April term. 6,039 students were determined to be eligible, and 6,039 students received disbursements. Awards were as follows:
      1. $500 to 2019-20 Federal Pell Grant Recipients
      2. $300 All Other Eligible Students
      3. $200 Additional to students in university arranged housing and travelled > 50 miles to attend
    2. $1,886,450, approximately 23%, was disbursed the week of May 25th to currently active students for the May term. 6,412 students were determined to be eligible, and 6,412 students received disbursements. (NOTE: At the time of disbursement, the U.S. Dept of Education provided additional guidance on student eligibility. It is uncertain if that guidance truly expanded eligibility to additional students. ECPI University is not changing disbursement criteria as a result of this guidance). Awards were as follows:
      1. $350 to 2019-20 Federal Pell Grant Recipients
      2. $200 All Other Eligible Students
    3. $1,808,650, approximately 22%, was disbursed during the week of July 6th to currently active students for the June term. 6,300 students were determined to be eligible, and 6,300 students received disbursements. Awards were as follows:
      1. $300 to 2019-20 Pell Grant Recipients
      2. $200 to all other eligible students
    4. $1,494,400, most of the remaining funding available, was disbursed during the week of October 19th to currently active students for the October term. 6,045 students were determined to be eligible, and 6,040 (5 opted-out) students received disbursements. Awards were as follows:
      1. $300 to Pell Grant recipients at any time in 2020.
      2. $200 to all other eligible students who received any Federal Title IV aid in 2020.
    5. In December 2020, $70,550 was disbursed to 270 students from remaining funding for extreme COVID related hardships due to a transition to remote learning, in addition to re-disbursement of recovered and unused prior disbursements.
    6. A final disbursement totaling $565,650 was made in March 2021 exhausting the student allocation and using approximately $175,000 from the institution’s funding allocation. 3,771 students were determined to be eligible and received disbursements as follows:
      1. $150 to all Pell Grant eligible students.
  7. Students have been notified in all communications that any funds they receive must be used for COVID related disruptions they have or will experience in transitioning to online education. Students were advised to keep a record of how these funds are used for eligible educational expenses. Eligible expenses could include:
    1. Improving internet connectivity for a better educational experience
    2. Acquiring equipment such as modems, routers, and computers to overcome technology barriers education
    3. Living expenses due to unanticipated job situations in your family (furlough, pay reductions, working fewer hours, job change, etc.)
    4. Supplies to keep you safe to allow study
    5. Students were told if they did not anticipate such expenses, to notify the financial aid office. Some students have made such notifications and are not included in student disbursements.

Disbursements will be made by ACH or check depending on whether the student has provided ACH information. Disbursement rosters will be delivered to Wells Fargo to execute disbursements after successfully drawing down funding needed from the U.S. Treasury. A personal email is sent to each recipient with the details for each eligible disbursement, and recorded in the university’s Student Information System (SIS). Additionally, these transactions are ‘washed’ through the student ledgers for tracking and required reporting purposes. Disbursements are being regularly reconciled.