Emergency Relief Funding (HEERF CARES Act)

Under the recently signed Certification and Agreement with the Department of Education, Western Piedmont Community College will receive an allocation of $1,157,050 in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) authorized through provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The following guidelines are for the 50% student share of WPCC’s CARES Act allocation totaling $578,525. Further guidance will be issued for the disbursement of the second 50% of the College’s HEERF CARES act allocation shortly.

Distribution Guidelines for the HEERF CARES Act Student Share:

A curriculum (CU) student must have been enrolled in at least one seated or hybrid curriculum class as of March 13, 2020 for the spring 2020 semester.

A curriculum (CU) student must have a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet the following criteria as defined by Sec. 484 of the Higher Education Act:

  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program;
  • Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school;
  • For currently enrolled students, be making satisfactory academic progress;
  • Not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans;
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan;
  • File “as part of the original financial aid application process” a certification that includes
    • A statement of educational purpose;
    • Student’s SSN;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible non-citizen;
  • Have returned fraudulently obtained Title IV funds if convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges;
  • Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits;
  • Have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently;
  • Have Selective Service registration verified;
  • Have Social Security Number verified; and
  • Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.

Students meeting the above criteria may submit the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) Request Form.  In completing the Form, students certify they incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations and instructional format due to COVID-19.

First consideration will be given to applications submitted by July 31, 2020.

Maximum Grant by Enrollment Status for the 2020 Spring term:

  • Full Time (12 or more semester hours credit):  $1,030
  • Three-Fourths Time (9-11 semester hours credit): $770
  • Half Time (6-8 semester hours credit): $515
  • Less than Half Time (1-5 semester hours credit): $260

These guidelines will be followed subject to the availability of CARES Act funding.

Frequently-Asked Questions about HEERF CARES Act Funding

What do I have to do to receive a HEERF CARES Act Grant?

  • Have a completed 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file.
  • Enrolled in a least one seated or hybrid class as of March 13, 2020 during the spring term.
  • Submit the HEERF CARES Act Funding Request Form by July 31, 2020.

When will I receive my HEERF CARES Act money?

If you qualify by meeting all federal guidelines for HEERF CARES Act grant funds, you will receive your grant via check sent by mail. We anticipate the first direct disbursements will be sent by mid-June with further disbursements continuing through the summer. By federal law we must disperse all funds received within one year.

Are students required to submit a request form for the funds?

Students who meet the federal criteria, have a 2019-2020 FAFSA on file, and meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for Title IV (federal financial aid) eligibility must complete and submit the HEERF CARES Act Funding Request Form by July 31, 2020.

Are students who graduated in Spring 2020 eligible to receive a HEERF CARES Act grant?

 Any student enrolled in an eligible program on March 13, 2020, and is eligible for Title IV funding (federal financial aid), is eligible to receive HEERF CARES Act grant funds. Therefore, a student who has recently graduated and meets these requirements, is eligible to receive a HEERF CARES Act grant.

Do I need to be enrolled for the 2020 summer term to receive a HEERF Cares Act grant?

A student enrolled in an eligible program on March 13, 2020, and is eligible for Title IV funding (federal financial aid), is eligible to receive HEERF CARES Act grant funds. Therefore, a student who does not attend for the summer, but meets these requirements, is eligible to receive a HEERF CARES Act grant.

The Education Department has said that to receive a grant a student must meet the definition of “eligible student” under Title IV. Does the student also have to be enrolled in a Title IV “eligible program” to receive such a grant?

Yes, students must be enrolled in an eligible program of study to receive a HEERF CARES Act grant. Federal regulations require that students receiving Title IV funding (federal financial aid) must maintain satisfactory academic progress.

How can I use my HEERF CARES Act Grant?

How you spend the grant is up to you but according to the intent of the funds, a student should use this money for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus (including eligible expenses related to your cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and child care).

What if I owe a balance to WPCC for tuition or other expenses?

You can still be eligible to receive a HEERF CARES Act disbursement even if you owe a balance to WPCC. The college will not deduct any fees from your HEERF CARES Act grant. However, any outstanding balances will remain on your account. How you use your HEERF CARES Act Emergency Grant is your choice. However, you must still pay off any balances to prevent issues with registration or collections.

Can a student choose to use their grant to pay an outstanding tuition or college bill?

Yes, how you spend the money is up to you. If you wish to use the HEERF CARES Act grant to pay for tuition you can take the money received from your check and use those funds to pay any outstanding bill with the college. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but the Department of Education requires WPCC to transfer the money directly to the student. It cannot be placed on the student account.

Are international students eligible to receive grants?

No. International students are not eligible for funding.

Are DACA students eligible?

No. DACA students are not eligible for funding.

If I am enrolled in online classes only at WPCC, am I eligible?

No. Students who were enrolled online only in the Spring 2020 semester are not eligible under Federal guidelines. If a student was enrolled in at least one hybrid or face to face class at the time of disruption (March 13, 2020) and the student meets all other federal requirements, then the student is eligible for a HEERF CARES Act grant and will be contacted soon with disbursement information.

Do I have to complete a FAFSA to receive a HEERF CARES Act Grant?

Yes, if you have not completed a FAFSA for 2019-2020, you will need to do so as soon as possible so that you can be considered for a HEERF CARES Act grant.

Federal regulations require that students receiving Title IV funds (federal financial aid) must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Will the HEERF CARES Act Grant impact my financial aid package?

If you are awarded a HEERF CARES Act grant, this grant will not impact your financial aid award package.

I didn’t get an email from Financial Aid, but I think I am eligible. Who can I contact?

Contact the Financial Aid Office at 828-448-6046.


CARES Act Funding Reports

50% Student Share Allocation Reports

Certification and Agreement

May 15, 2020:  Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution will 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.

Funds Received

May 19, 2020:  WPCC received the Grant Award Notification in the amount of $578,525 from the Department of Education pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for HEERF Emergency Grants to students.

Funds Distributed

The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed directly to students by check under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act:

As of June 15, 2020:   $98,850.00

As of July 15, 2020:   $166,995.00

As of July 29, 2020:  $208,970.00

As of August 15, 2020:  $409,990.00

As of September 15, 2020:  $414,880.00

As of October 10, 2020 – Quarterly Report:  $575,305.00

Eligible Participants

Estimated number of students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 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:

As of June 15, 2020 = 501

As of July 15, 2020 = 527

As of July 29, 2020 =  538

As of August 15, 2020 =  467

As of September 15, 2020 =  468

As of October 10, 2020 – Quarterly Report =  468

Students Receiving Funds

The total number of students who have received a HEERF CARES Act Emergency Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act:

As of June 15, 2020 =  108

As of July 15, 2020 =  183

As of July 29, 2020 =  250

As of August 15, 2020 =  467

As of September 15, 2020 =  468

As of October 10, 2020 – Quarterly Report =  468

Method for Determining Eligible Students and Amount of Award

WPCC used a comprehensive method for determining which students would be eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants by reviewing the files of all students at the College enrolled as of March 13, 2020.  Eligibility criteria included published guidance from the Department of Education requiring that students meet conditions of Section 484 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and not be enrolled entirely online, including the following:

  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.
  • Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school.
  • For currently enrolled students, be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans.
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
  • File “as part of the original financial aid application process” a certification that includes
    • A statement of educational purpose.
    • Student’s SSN.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible noncitizen.
  • Have returned fraudulently obtained Title IV funds if convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges.
  • Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits.
  • Have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently.
  • Have Selective Service registration verified.
  • Have Social Security Number verified.
  • Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.

Award amounts were determined by WPCC’s Senior Staff and are based on the credit hour enrollment of eligible students as of the Census date of the 2020 Spring term as follows:

 

EnrollmentAmount
LTHT (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 SHCs) $        260.00
HT (6, 7, or 8 SHCs) $        515.00
3/4 time (9, 10, or 11 SHCs) $        770.00
Full-time (12 or more SHCs) $     1,030.00

 

Process to Request Funding

Upon approval for the HEERF CARES Act funding, WPCC asked eligible students to complete a Request Form by July 31, 2020, attesting to having incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus instruction due to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Childcare
  • Food
  • Healthcare/Medical
  • Housing (including increased utility costs)
  • Technology (including computer or WiFi access for online classes)
  • Other

On August 1, 2020, those students who were deemed eligible by meeting the criteria listed above, but who had not submitted a Request Form, were automatically awarded Emergency Grants based on their enrollment status at the beginning of the 2020 spring term. Checks were mailed to remaining students on August 14, 2020.

Guidance Provided to Students Regarding Emergency Financial Aid Grants

May 26, 2020:  An email from WPCC’s Financial Aid Office was sent to the initial 501 students providing guidance regarding the CARES Act funds for Students, informing them of the availability of the funds, and providing a direct link to the Request Form. In addition, a paper letter including a copy of the Request Form, was mailed to all initial 501 students.

Information was also posted on the WPCC website.

June 11, 2020: A follow up email was sent to 393 students who have yet to respond.

July 17, 2020:  CARES Act Emergency grants based on SP20 enrollment were automatically issued to the remaining SP20 eligible students who had not yet submitted a Request Form.

September 25, 2020:  Each SP20 eligible student who re-enrolled for the 2020 fall term was issued an additional CARES Act Emergency Grant in the amount of $575 to assist with ongoing expenses related to the disruption of instruction due to COVID-19.

October 15, 2020:  Remaining CARES Act Emergency funds from the student share are available as emergency grants on a case-by-case basis to assist with ongoing expenses related to the disruption of instruction due to COVID-19.  Students contacting the Financial Aid Office for emergency assistance will be considered for these funds, provided they meet the eligibility criteria referenced in Section 484 of the HEA and were enrolled during the 2020 spring term.

50% Institutional Share Allocation Reports

These reports are in PDF format and can be opened with the free Adobe Reader software.