CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Wake Technical Community College signed and returned the Certification and Agreement to the US Department of Education offering assurance that the college intends to 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 on April 15, 2020. The college received a Grant Award Notification from the US Department of Education on April 24, 2020 in the amount of $5,195,425 pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

Status of Distribution of Funds

As of May 21, 2020, Wake Tech has distributed $3,312,000 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to 2,878 students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

On March 13, 2020, 7,731 Wake Tech students were eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. After excluding 1,700 students enrolled in online-only programs and courses from the eligible pool, 6,031 students were potentially eligible for CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid grants.  Wake Tech set forth further criteria to capture enrollment status, financial need, and level of disruption resulting in a pool of 4,156 potentially eligible students.

As of May 21, 2020, among the 4,156 potentially eligible students, 3,184 students have received and accepted a grant award (totaling $3,651,710) and 43 students were determined ineligible as they did not incur costs due to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus.

Methodology

A committee was established to determine how to distribute emergency aid funds within the guidelines provided by the US Department of Education. Key eligibility criteria for the Spring 2020 grant awards include:

  • A student must have been enrolled in at least 6 hours of curriculum classes and have had at least one credit hour disrupted by campus closure as of March 13, 2020 for the spring 2020 semester.  Students who were enrolled in exclusively online courses or programs as of March 13th were not eligible
  • The curriculum student must have submitted the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have been deemed Title IV eligible as defined by Sec. 484 of the Higher Education Act
  • To receive funds, students must read and accept the terms that s/he incurred expenses due to the disruption of campus operations from the coronavirus outbreak

For Emergency Financial Aid Grants awarded during the spring 2020 semester, Wake Tech devised an objective formula to distribute funds to students who incurred costs due to the disruption of campus operations. The formula considered the FAFSA-determined Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and the number of enrolled seated credit hours disrupted by campus closures. Students could earn a maximum of seven points in the formula between these two criteria. The formula provided up to three points for a student’s EFC based on their 2019-20 FAFSA application. Students with an EFC of zero were awarded the maximum three points. Students with an EFC in the range between 1-5,576, which is the range for Pell grant eligibility, were awarded two points. Students with an EFC in the range between 5,577-8,500, which is the range for state aid eligibility, were awarded one point. Among students with an EFC of 0-8,500, the formula provided up to four points for the number of credit hours in which a student was enrolled that were disrupted from operation on campus. Students who were enrolled in 12 or more credit hours that were moved from on-campus operations to online were awarded the maximum four points. Students who were enrolled in nine to 11 hours that were moved from on-campus operation to online were awarded three points. Students who were enrolled in six to eight credit hours that were moved from on-campus operation to online were awarded two points. Students who were enrolled in five or fewer credit hours that were moved from on-campus operations to online were awarded one point. Each point in the formula was assigned a value of $230 and student awards were offered based on their cumulative point totals of the two criteria at a multiplier of $230.

Formula: EFC points + seated credit hours points x $230= Emergency Financial Aid Grant Award

EFC # Points
0 3
1-5,576 2
5,577-8,500 1

 

# Seated credit hours enrolled # Points
12+ 4
9-11 3
6-8 2
1-5 1
# Points Award Amount
2 $460
3 $690
4 $920
5 $1,150
6 $1,380
7 $1,610

Student Communication

Wake Tech has communicated to students about CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants by email, phone, text, and a message sent through the financial aid notification system. On May 8th, students were notified of their eligibility for grant funds and guidance for accepting their awards via an email from President Ralls:


Dear <student>

Emergency funding to support students impacted by campus disruption due to the coronavirus has been provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

The college has determined that you may be eligible to receive a Wake Tech CARES Emergency Grant.  If you have had costs associated with campus closure due to the coronavirus, please take the following steps immediately:

  • Log into your financial aid in Self Service and review the automatic notification of award offer. You do not need to request the funds. You will receive automatic notification of the award via the Wake Tech Self Service portal on or before May 10, 2020. 
     
  • Read the verification statement and if true, click yes to accept funds. (If you have not had any expenses related to the campus closure due to the coronavirus, click no to reject the offer.)

    You will need to accept the offer in Self Service before the CARES Emergency Grant can be disbursed to you via Bank Mobile. Your acceptance of the offer is your certification that you experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus.
     
  • We also know that many of our students are facing a variety of financial challenges at this time and many students are not able to access our NEST services like our food pantries. By accepting the Wake Tech CARES Emergency Grant, the college will also provide you with a one-time electronic Food Lion gift card for your food needs. Check your Wake Tech email account for information from Student Advocacy and Support ([email protected]) which will include the unique code you will use to access the electronic Food Lion gift card.  No physical gift cards will be mailed.  If you do not accept the CARES Emergency Grant but have food needs, you may still request food assistance by contacting [email protected] or by calling 919-866-5000.

We know that this has been a challenging time for all of us, and I admire your efforts to continue your education and further your own opportunities even in the challenges around COVID-19. Summer and fall registration are open, and we are here to assist you in registering for classes. Please contact [email protected] for advising assistance and to schedule a virtual advising session.

Wake Tech Student Services staff are ready to help you remotely in all of our support areas. Our team will be reaching out by phone, email, text, and other communications to support you. If you need help with this process or anything else, please contact us at the Answer Center at 919-866-5000 or at [email protected].

Be well,

Dr. Scott Ralls
President


Background:

CARES Act Emergency Grants are intended to cover some of the costs students have incurred due to campus closures and the transition to fully online coursework and student services. Examples of such costs may include computers and web cameras, software, Internet access, additional books, laboratory materials, and/or study resources. Costs may also be a result of the loss of access to campus support services. These services include the Nest food bank and other Student Advocacy and Support services for health, wellness, and referrals to community-based resources such as assistance for health, housing, and transportation needs.  

A committee was established to determine how to disburse the funds within the guidelines provided by the US Department of Education. Eligibility criteria for the Spring 2020 grant awards include:

  • A student must have been enrolled in at least 6 hours of curriculum classes as of March 13, 2020 for the spring 2020 semester.  Students who were enrolled in exclusively online courses or programs as of March 13th are not eligible.
     
  • The curriculum student must have submitted the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have been deemed Title IV eligible as defined by Sec. 484 of the Higher Education Act.
     
  • To receive funds, students must read and accept the terms that s/he incurred expenses due to the disruption of campus operations from the coronavirus outbreak.

For Emergency Grants awarded during the spring 2020 semester, Wake Tech devised an objective formula to distribute funds to students who incurred costs due to the disruption of campus operations considering the level of disruption and level of financial need based on the student’s 2019-20 FAFSA. A weighted formula was used to determine Emergency Grant award amounts considering FAFSA-determined Estimated Family Contribution and the number of enrolled seated credits disrupted by campus closures.

Additionally, a message was distributed through the financial aid notification system to notify students of their eligibility for a grant:

Dear <student>,  

The college has determined that you may be eligible to receive a CARES Emergency Grant. This grant is awarded based on the assumption that you experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). You must accept or reject the award by logging into Self Service, going to Financial Aid, then My Awards. 

  • Accept the award if you incurred additional costs due to campus closure due to the coronavirus. By accepting the award, you are certifying that you incurred such expenses. 
  • Reject the award if you have not incurred any additional costs related to campus closure due to coronavirus.  

Please contact your Financial Aid Specialist if you have questions. Find your Specialist and their contact information on Self Service or here FA Specialist.  

Sincerely,  
 
Wake Technical Community College 
9101 Fayetteville Road * Raleigh, NC 27603 * P:919-866-5410 * F: 919-662-3529 * Your student ID is 1821022  
Stay Connected with Wake Tech's Financial Aid Office. Follow Us On Instagram @waketechfinancialaid  


On May 14th and May 19th, 2020, texts were sent to all eligible students stating:

You’re eligible for the Wake Tech CARES Emergency Grant. Check the 2019-20 financial aid tab in Self Service to accept or reject. Selfserve.waketech.edu


On May 15th, 2020, a call campaign was launched by 15 employees to students who had not claimed their grant award to direct them to the President’s email, explain how to review their award, and answer any outstanding questions.