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CARES Act—Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2020

How will CARES Act funding be distributed to students?

On April 9, 2020 the U.S. Department of Education announced the allocation of student aid grants to students through universities and colleges as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The federal government allocated CARES Act funding to individual colleges and universities based on the total number of enrolled students and the number of enrolled students eligible to receive Pell Grants. The Department of Education notified the University on May 23, 2020 that its CARES Act grant application had been approved for funding. The University signed and returned to the Certification and Agreement to the DOE, providing the assurance that no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act would be used to provide emergency financial aid grants to students. Monmouth University’s allocation for emergency financial aid grants to students was $2,467,650.

In total, 4,443 Monmouth University students were eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV 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.

The Department of Education provided institutions with significant discretion for the distribution of the CARES Act grants to students, allowing each institution to develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds. This might include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need, but its guidance did stipulate that the grants be directed to students with the most significant financial needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

The University initially awarded CARES Act grants to undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled at the time of the campus closure, who met all Title IV eligibility requirements, and whose financial need had not already been met by some combination of federal, state, and institutional funding. Unmet institutional need is defined as direct cost (tuition, fees, room, and board for resident students or tuition and fees for commuting students) minus Expected Family Contribution or EFC (derived from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA) minus all grant, scholarship, subsidized loan, federal work study, and graduate assistantship financial aid awards. On June 3, 2020, the university amended its CARES Act grant eligibility criteria to include all Pell grant recipients who met all Title IV eligibility requirements, regardless of unmet need. All CARES Act emergency financial aid grant recipients were notified of their eligibility via an email containing relevant distribution information.

As of July 16, 2020, the University has distributed 2,825 Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students totaling $2,167,600.

What criteria did the university use to determine eligibility for CARES Act grants?

The Department of Education provided institutions with significant discretion for the distribution of the CARES Act grants to students, allowing each institution to develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds. This might include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need, but its guidance did stipulate that the grants be directed to students with the most significant financial needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

The University initially awarded CARES Act grants to undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled at the time of the campus closure, who met all Title IV eligibility requirements, and whose financial need had not already been met by some combination of federal, state, and institutional funding.  Unmet institutional need is defined as direct cost (tuition, fees, room, and board for resident students or tuition and fees for commuting students) minus Expected Family Contribution or EFC (derived from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA) minus all grant, scholarship, subsidized loan, federal work study, and graduate assistantship financial aid awards. On June 3, 2020, the university amended its CARES Act grant eligibility criteria to include all Pell grant recipients who met all Title IV eligibility requirements, regardless of unmet need.

The university awarded CARES Act grants to all eligible students demonstrating any unmet financial need, including graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile, and all undergraduate students with Pell grant eligibility. (Note: Graduate students are not eligible for Pell grants.)

The Department of Education based 75 percent of it calculation of the amount of CARES Act funding that Monmouth received on the number of enrolled Pell-eligible students, so why weren’t all Pell grant recipients included in the first distribution of funds?

The initial distribution of grants included 1,020 undergraduate students with Pell grant eligibility.  Several Pell-eligible students contacted the CARES Act Grant team to ask why they were not eligible for a CARES Act grant.  Moreover, a colleague contacted the team and asked us to look more carefully at why some high-need students received grants and others did not.  After looking again at the appeal emails as well as additional financial aid data, we determined that the 272 Pell-eligible students who did not have unmet need should also be awarded. The university amended its CARES Act grant criteria to include all Pell grant recipients and issued a second round of grants to 272 Pell grant recipients with no unmet need. The university also awarded CARES Act grants to 37 additional graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile who did not have unmet need.

How many CARES Act grants has the university awarded and how many of those grants went to Pell-eligible students?

As of June 10, 2020, the University has distributed 2,825 Emergency Financial Aid Grants to 2,196 undergraduate students (2,147 full-time and 49 part-time) and 629 graduate students (378 full-time and 251 part-time). Of the 2,825 grants awarded, 2,516 were awarded to students who had unmet need, including 1,020 Pell grant recipients. An additional 272 CARES Act grants were awarded to Pell grant recipients with no unmet need. All students with Pell grant eligibility, a total of 1,292 students, have received a CARES Act grant. Additionally, although graduate students are not eligible for Pell grants, we did award CARES Act grants to graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile.

When did Monmouth receive its CARES Act grant award and when were students notified of their eligibility?

The U.S. Department of Education notified the university on Saturday, May 23, that its CARES Act grant application had been approved for funding. The university notified the first round of students on Tuesday, May 26. A second round of students were notified of their eligibility on June 3, after the criteria were amended to include all Pell-eligible students, regardless of unmet need.

What pandemic-related expenses is the University incurring?

As of June 1, 2020, the university’s pandemic-related expenses total approximately $10 million, including the cost of refunding unused housing, meal plans, and parking; technology expenses associated with a rapid transition to online learning and instruction; increased costs for sanitation and disinfection on campus; the loss of the university’s NCAA revenue distribution; and lost revenue from programs, activities, and events that were cancelled.

How does Monmouth plan to use the $2.5 million institutional allocation of CARES Act funds that are not restricted for direct student aid?

The university’s CARES Act distribution will be used to offset the $10 million in pandemic-related expenses we have incurred thus far.

Whom may I contact with additional questions about the CARES Act funding?

You may reach members of the CARES Act Grant team at caresact@monmouth.edu.

The University’s plans and protocols are subject to change in response to evolving guidance from local, state, and federal government and public health officials. We will continue to update this website regularly and encourage you to check back often for the most up-to-date information.