CARES ACT and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF I and II)
Houston Community College (HCC)
The CARES Act and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF I and II) Report - 3/31/21
Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”), directs institutions receiving funds under Section 18004 of the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the Secretary) a report to the Secretary describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”).
The following information is provided by Houston Community College (the “College” or “HCC”) as required by the Department of Education (“ED”) in order to comply with the reporting requirements under the CARES Act. Further instructions on how to submit the fund report to the Secretary is pending but the following is provided in accordance with the ED’s guidance issued on May 6, 2020. Specifically, the following is posted in an easily accessible webpage within the College’s website webpage(s) 30 days after the date when the institution received its allocation under 18004(a)(1). This report will be updated every 45 days thereafter with the following:
1. Acknowledgment of Certification and Agreement
An acknowledgment that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or 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 13, 2020, Houston Community College (HCC) signed and submitted the Certification and Agreement under Section 18004(a) (1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
2. Total Amount of Funds Received
The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students:
Houston Community College has been allocated $28,294,391 in funds for student and institutional expenses as the result of the CARES Act. Of this total allocation and consistent with the HEERF guidelines, a minimum 50 percent of the College allocation will be distributed directly to students in the form of emergency cash grants. That 50 percent amount is $14,147,196 and is being provided directly to students in the form of cash grants as mandated by the CARES Act.
3. Total Amount of Funds Distributed to Students to Date
The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a) (1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter):
As of December 1, 2020, $15,838,700 of emergency financial aid grant funds have been distributed to students. All cash grants were paid directly to the students.
The Student Portion, under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, expended $14,147,100 and the amount of Institutional Portion expended is $1,691,600 as of December 1, 2020.
4. Estimated Total Number of Students at the Institution Eligible to Participate in Programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965
The estimated total number of students at the institution 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:
Based on regulatory guidance released April 21, 2020, by the Department of Education, a total of 20,322 students were identified.
5. The Total Number of Students who have Received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a) (1) of the CARES Act.
The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a) (1) of the CARES Act:
As of December 1, 2020, 18,167 students have been provided emergency financial aid grant funds. All cash grants were paid directly to the students.
6. The Methods used by the Institution to Determine which Students Receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how Much they would Receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act:
HCC students were identified as eligible for the HEERF emergency cash grants by querying the College’s data system (PeopleSoft Student System) for students who met the following requirements:
- Student has completed the FAFSA for 2019-2020
- Student is actively enrolled in SCH classes for Spring 2020 (not withdrawn) for the spring distribution or enrolled in SCH classes for Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 for the summer distribution
- Student is meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
- Student has been awarded aid for any term in 2019-2020 (fall, spring, or summer)
Dollar amounts were assigned to each selection using prior data from a 2-year emergency aid program administered by HCC. The dollar amounts assigned relate to reasonable cost of attendance standards. Therefore, the award amounts range from $400 to $1000 per student. Students can only complete the application once for the Spring 2020 semester. The average award is $950 per student. This award amount is driven by the students’ self-reported expense(s) as detailed below.
7. Any Instructions, Directions, or Guidance Provided by the Institution to Students Concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants:
HCC developed an online request form accessible through self-service screens (i.e. MyEagle Student Portal) for the 20,322 students who were determined to be eligible to apply. Multiple communications were sent to these eligible students via their email address on record, which included instructions for how to access and submit the form.
Additionally, all instruction and eligibility requirements were posted to HCC’s website at https://www.hccs.edu/applying-and-paying/financial-aid/emergency-help/.
Using an HCC designed online form, students were given the opportunity to report having been affected by the Coronavirus campus disruptions and asked to identify which additional expenses resulted. Students were also allowed to select the primary purpose for emergency assistance.
- Cover housing costs
- Cover food costs
- Cover course material costs
- Cover technology costs
- Cover health care costs
- Cover child care costs
8. Section 314(a)(1), (a)(4) Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act - Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF II).
Houston Community College has been allocated $14,147,196 in funds for student emergency expenses as the result of the CRRSA Act. Institutions have one calendar yar from the date of their award to expend funds which may be used for pre-award costs incurred on or after December 27, 2020, the date of the enactment of the CRRSAA. Institutions must make financial aid grants to students, which can be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or childcare. Unlike the CARES Act, the CRRSAA requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants, and authorizes grants to students exclusively enrolled in distance education.
Houston Community College prioritized the neediest students during the first round of distributions by making the online request form available to 22,270 possible eligible students, including all Pell Eligible students. Online request form was active for students from February 1, 2021 to February 24, 2021. A total of 8,012 students who requested the funds were disbursed and refunded $8,012,000 on February 26, 2021. As second round of HEERF II communications went out to 25,867 possible eligible students on March 10, 2021. Online request form was active from March 10, 2021 to March 29, 2021. A total of 2,861 students who requested the funds were disbursed and refunded $2,861,000 on March 31, 2021. As of March 31, 2021, a total of 10,873 students have received $10,873,000 of HEERF II funds.