Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information

CARES Act

Last updated 7/09/2021     Go to Federal Aid Summary Page  

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act & Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I)

The U.S. government provided emergency funding to colleges and universities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act provided the first round of emergency funding, extending Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF I) to students and institutions.

Student Emergency Grants

The CSU Cares Program offered emergency grants for CSU students experiencing financial hardships directly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was made possible through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized by the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as well as existing CSU campus-based resources.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I) Results

Chico State received $9,979,696 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students pursuant to signing the required Certification and Agreement with the US Department of Education on April 29, 2020. The campus assures no less than 50 percent of the total funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was provided as Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. The campus also received an additional allocation of $1,431,422 as a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI). The campus made the decision to augment the funding of the Emergency Financial Aid Grants with the MSI allocation.

In early May 2020, 11,600 students were identified as eligible to be considered for the emergency grants under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Department of Education continued to provide clarification of eligibility throughout May, and as a result the campus reviewed and revised the number of eligible students under Title IV to 15,910. A total of 9,577 students received $11,193,314 in emergency grants through this program. In addition, the campus contributed $439,745 towards emergency grants to assist students who did not qualify under HEERF guidelines, for a grand total of $11,633,059 in student support.

The entire $9,979,696 section 18004(a)(1) allocation and $1,213,618 of the MSI allocation was awarded and disbursed to eligible students on May 29, 2020.

In February 2021, $24,500 of the remaining MSI allocation was released to 73 qualifying students based on a student survey of remote technology needs. Also in February 2021, an increase of $11,989 to the grant award for minority-serving institutions was received, and the remaining balance of $205,793 was awarded as emergency aid to 258 eligible students in April 2021.

As of December 2020, $1,800 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act and $500 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants awarded under the allocation as a minority-serving institution were stale-dated checks and returned as uncashed. This results in a revised total of $11,191,014 in emergency grants funded by the CARES Act. The campus distributed the $2,300 in returned funds as new grants to eligible students in April 2021.

As of June 2021, $900 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was a stale-dated check and returned as uncashed. The campus will distribute the $900 in returned funds as new grants to eligible students in 2021-22 academic year.

The method used by Chico State to determine which students received awards and the instructions for students were as follows.

Eligibility

All currently enrolled Chico State undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who were eligible to receive federal financial aid and were not enrolled in a completely online program as of March 13, 2020, were considered for emergency grants funded by HEERF. Even if students had current financial holds or owed the campus fees or fines, they were still eligible for this program. All other currently enrolled students were considered for emergency grants through the Chico State Cares Emergency Grants Program.

Funding Purpose

The emergency grants were designed to support student expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These expenses have included food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child-care expenses. Grants were disbursed electronically to student banking accounts or via check.

Grant Amounts

Grant amounts vary by campus and by student, depending on-campus resources and student circumstances. However, grant awards provided via HEERF dollars were not restricted by cost of attendance ceilings and were not counted against a student’s future financial aid award.

Grant Amount Determination

Grant amounts were based on each student’s documented financial need and in proportion to the financial difficulty faced as a result of COVID-19. To be eligible for HEERF funds under the CARES Act, students had to have filed a FAFSA and been deemed eligible to receive Federal Aid funds by the US Department of Education and the campus financial aid office by April 21, 2020. Eligible students were then divided into three categories:

Phase 1 Block Grants: Group 1

Eligible students with the lowest income status who received maximum state and/or federal aid. Students with an official expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 were placed in this group. Group 1 students received an automatic grant award of $1,000 if enrolled full-time. The amount was prorated to $800 if less than full-time. Students in Group 1 could also apply for additional funds through the Chico State Cares Student Emergency Grants application process. (See the section on applying for additional funds below).

Phase 1 Block Grants: Group 2

Eligible students with some financial need prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students with an official expected family contribution (EFC) of $1 to $5,576 were placed in this group. Group 2 students received an automatic grant award of $900 if enrolled full-time. The amount was prorated to $700 if less than full-time. Students in Group 2 could also apply for additional funds through the Chico State Cares Student Emergency Grants application process. (See the section on applying for additional funds below).

Phase 2 Application Process: Group 3

Eligible students without regard to prior state and/or federal aid received or non-eligible students. Students with an official expected family contribution (EFC) greater than $5,576 and students not eligible for Federal CARES Act funding were placed in this group. Students in Group 3 did not receive an automatic grant award but could apply for additional funds through the Chico State Cares Student Emergency Grants application process. (See the next section, Application for Additional Funds).

Application for Additional Funds

We encouraged students who were not eligible for federal student aid to consider the Chico State Cares Student Emergency Grants application process. Students in Groups 1, 2, and 3 above could apply for additional financial assistance through a simple application process that was available from a link in their Student Center. The application was available from May 4, 2020, to May 21, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Even though the campus had limited funding available, all students who requested financial assistance through the application process received an award based on incurred COVID-19 expenses. The applications greatly exceeded available funds available so the campus established a maximum award between $1,000 and $1,500 per student. The campus notified applicants by May 29, 2020, which was a week sooner than planned.

Students were asked to describe the expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic for which they were seeking support. These may have included items such as food, housing, course materials, technology, travel, childcare, health care, and other related expenses that required an explanation.

Receiving HEERF Funds

We know these are times of great need and Chico State worked diligently to disburse eligible students’ awards as quickly as possible. Students in Groups 1 and 2 had automatic grants applied to their student account by May 4, 2020.

Students who applied for additional funds in Group 3 had awards posted by May 29, 2020. If awarded, students were able to locate this information in their Student Center under Account Inquiry. Funds were disbursed via direct deposit for those who had previously designated their bank information for this purpose. Once posted in the student account, direct deposit funds are normally received in the student’s bank account within three business days. Students who had not signed up for direct deposit had their check mailed to their local address. We asked that at least 10 business days be allowed for receipt of checks. Wells Fargo offered to cash these checks at no charge for students who did not have a bank account.

Students who see an award posted but have not received the funds should contact Student Financial Services at 530-898-5936 (M-F, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.) or cash@csuchico.edu.

Higher Education Institutional Portion Funding

This funding was made possible through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Chico State was awarded $9,979,695 in funding under the Institutional Portion pursuant to signing the required Certification and Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education on May 6, 2020. To date, Chico State has drawn down $9,804,084 of the federal funds to reimburse the campus for technology costs, student refunds related to housing and parking, Regional and Continuing Education for Spring 2020, and faculty stipends for the Go-Virtual Summer Institute. The campus continues to accumulate and review costs incurred due to COVID-19, determining which amounts to reimburse with the remaining funding from the HEERF Institutional Portion.

Please refer to the Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reports linked on our Federal Aid Summary(opens in new window) page for more details on the breakdown of expenditures.

Please see Institutional Portion Funding(opens in new window) website to see how CRRSAA and ARPA funds are being spent by Chico State.

Pursuant to H.R. 748 (CARES Act), section 18004(c), CSU campuses may use monies to cover costs incurred associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. Costs must be incurred on or after March 13, 2020 to be eligible. Examples of allowable uses permitted under the broad institutional authority granted by the CARES Act include lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, payroll costs, and emergency financial aid grants to students for their expenses.

Section 18006 of the CARES Act provides further guidance regarding the use of monies provided under by act, stating that institutions of higher education shall to the greatest extent practicable continue to pay its employees and contractors (e.g. auxiliary organizations) during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.

Given the high-profile nature of this funding, be alert for phishing attacks. Remember, Chico State will never ask you to email/text your password or ask you to verify your banking information via email.