FOR POSTSECONDARY SCHOOLS: COVID-19

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
ACCESS CARES ACT FUNDS CARES ACT & STATE AID FUTURE READY IOWA CHANGES IN PROGRAM OFFERINGS STATE FINANCIAL AID

HOW TO ACCESS CARES ACT FUNDS FOR STUDENTS

April 14, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides roughly $14 billion in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to institutions of higher education using a formula based on student enrollment. You can find allocation amounts for Iowa institutions here.

Of the amount allocated to each institution, at least 50 percent must be reserved to provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. The U.S. Department of Education is prioritizing this funding stream to provide money to students in need as quickly as possible.

Follow these steps to access the funds:

Step 1

Your institution must have an account with Grants.gov. If you do not have a Grants.gov account, you can create one here.

Procedures and tips

Step 2

To locate this funding opportunity on Grants.gov, input one of these basic search criteria:

  • CFDA – 84.425
  • Funding Opportunity Number - ED-GRANTS-041020-003
  • Competition Title – Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – IHEs
  • Closing Date – 09.30.2020

Submission guide

Step-by-step with screen shots

Step 3

Upload your institution’s Certificate of Agreement to Grants.gov. When filling out the Certificate of Agreement, enter your institution’s 50 percent direct-to-student allocation on the certificate, not the full 100 percent allocation. The U.S. Department of Education will announce availability of the remaining 50 percent soon.

CARES HEERF Certification and Agreement

Step 4

Complete the Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424).

Instructions

Step 5

Complete the Department of Education Supplemental Information Form for the SF-424.

Instructions

Note: The U.S. Department of Education encourages institutions to prioritize students with the greatest need and to consider establishing a per-student maximum to ensure that funds are distributed as widely as possible. One option is to use the Pell Grant maximum ($6,195 for 2019-20) as the threshold.

Additional information

Please direct questions to HEERF@ed.gov or Chris McCaghren, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs, at 202-453-7337 or christopher.mccaghren@ed.gov.


CARES ACT AND STATE AID ELIGIBILITY

April 14, 2020

With the continuation of the COVID-19 emergency, and pursuant to the enactment of the federal CARES Act and release of additional guidance by the Federal Department of Education, the guidance below has been developed to provide associated clarification in relation to state financial aid program eligibility.

Cost of attendance

State financial aid programs leverage the Title IV cost of attendance for award calculations. Given the updated federal guidance in relation to adjustments to cost of attendance (COVID-19 FAQs), the same guidance will apply to state financial aid programs. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, you do not need to adjust the cost of attendance for state financial aid award calculations in situations addressed by the federal guidance.

Refunds of state financial aid for students withdrawing from programs of study

Institutions are given flexibility in how state financial aid is refunded in the event a student withdraws during a term of enrollment, but the institution must have a policy clearly stating how state financial aid is refunded. Institutions can use their tuition refund policy, the Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation, or their policy for the return of institutional financial aid.

The temporary flexibility corresponding to the R2T4, pursuant to the enactment of the CARES Act, also applies to state financial aid for institutions that use R2T4 to calculate state financial aid refunds. Institutions that calculate state financial aid refunds according to their tuition refund policy or institutional financial aid refund policy already have a degree of internal flexibility to adjust those policies to meet student needs.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP)

Students must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements, according to the provisions of the Higher Education Act, as amended, to maintain eligibility for state financial aid. As such, recent changes to SAP enacted in the CARES Act will also apply to state financial aid eligibility.

Other provisions in the CARES Act

Section 3504 of the CARES Act allows Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) to be utilized as emergency financial aid grants to assist students impacted by COVID-19. Section 3504 also provides a special allowance to ensure these grant funds are not treated as other financial assistance. Federal veterans’ education benefits excluded from estimated financial assistance in the calculation of federal student aid are also excluded as financial assistance in the calculation of state financial aid programs administered by Iowa College Aid. As such, SEOG awarded under the provisions of Section 3504 of the CARES Act will also be excluded as financial assistance in the calculation of state financial aid awards. 

Section 18004 of the CARES Act provides emergency grant funding to institutions to assist students with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Because these funds are not considered to be federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (guidance here), the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship will not need to be recalculated due to receipt of the emergency grant funds under Section 18004.


STUDENT ELIGIBILITY FOR FUTURE READY IOWA PROGRAMS

April 3, 2020

With the continuation of the COVID-19 emergency, the guidance below has been developed to address issues specifically related to the future eligibility of spring recipients of the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant who were impacted by COVID-19. Additional guidance will be communicated as it is developed and approved. 

Governor Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency on March 17, 2020.

Enrollment status

The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship (LDS) and Future Ready Iowa Grant (Grant) require a student to enroll in a minimum number of credit hours to maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment. If a student drops late start spring courses (within the corresponding add/drop period) to the extent that it adjusts their enrollment level below a threshold required for continued program eligibility, that student could become ineligible for the LDS or Grant in future terms of enrollment. 

Guidance for Spring Semester 2020: A student who was awarded the LDS or Grant, and was enrolled (officially registered) in at least the minimum number of credit hours in the spring term of enrollment as of 3/17/20, but subsequently does not attend or drops a class which reduces the student’s spring enrollment intensity below the minimum credit hour threshold, will continue to meet the continuous enrollment provisions in relation to LDS or Grant eligibility next fall (fall 2020).

Withdrawals

The LDS and Grant require students to continuously enroll during fall and spring terms of enrollment in order to maintain eligibility. Students who completely withdraw from classes during a fall or spring term of enrollment are considered to have broken continuous enrollment, and are therefore ineligible for funding in a future term of enrollment, unless granted a leave of absence in accord with the provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Guidance for Spring Semester 2020: A student who was awarded the LDS or Grant during the spring term of enrollment, but who withdrew from all courses on or after 3/17/20, will continue to meet the continuous enrollment provisions in relation to LDS or Grant eligibility next fall (fall 2020).

Please keep track of these student’s ICAPS® IDs as you come across them. We will request that information at a later date.


CHANGES IN PROGRAM OFFERINGS

March 26, 2020

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (“Commission”) is aware of the health concerns schools are facing because of the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and realizes that postsecondary schools registered or exempt under Iowa Administrative Code may need to cease face-to-face instruction to protect the well-being of students, staff, and faculty. The Commission acknowledges that postsecondary schools may find it necessary to offer distance education as an alternative mode of instruction for the Spring 2020 academic term and for a longer period if the school deems it necessary for the well-being of the school’s community. 

For postsecondary schools registered (authorized) with the Commission

For postsecondary schools registered under Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 261B, Iowa Administrative Rule 283 Chapter 21.3(15) requires schools to notify the Commission of any substantive changes in program offerings or location(s). To facilitate the required notification process during this rapidly changing public health crisis, please complete this online form as soon as possible.

For postsecondary schools exempt from registration with the Commission

For postsecondary schools exempt under Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 261B.11, in an effort to address potential student concerns and complaints, the Commission requests notification of any changes to your normal academic operations including substantive changes in program offerings or location(s). To facilitate the notification process during this rapidly changing public health crisis, please complete this online form as soon as possible. 

Resources

For information and resources regarding the Coronavirus, refer to the following:

Questions

If you have questions, email Jayne Smith, Postsecondary Registration Compliance Officer at jayne.smith@iowa.gov, Lisa Pundt, Postsecondary Registration Compliance Officer/SARA Portal Agent at lisa.pundt@iowa.gov, or Carolyn Small, Postsecondary Registration Administrator at carolyn.small@iowa.gov.


STUDENT ELIGIBILITY FOR STATE FINANCIAL AID FOR SPRING ENROLLMENT

March 19, 2020

We know many colleges/universities have moved to online modalities to deliver instruction on a temporary basis or for the remainder of the spring semester. We also know some colleges/universities are considering suspending classes for a temporary period of time, or condensing the spring semester. In general, if a recipient of state financial aid completes the spring credit hours for which their state financial aid was calculated, the state financial aid award will not be impacted. Other noteworthy considerations have been summarized below.

Program of study

Generally, programs of study must be eligible for Federal Student Aid to qualify for state-funded financial aid. Changes to programs of study during the spring term of enrollment must continue to meet the provisions of Federal Student Aid eligibility and align with law, regulations, and guidance provided by the Federal Department of Education.

Enrollment status

Some state financial aid programs require a student to enroll in a minimum number of credit hours to maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment (examples: Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant). Under normal circumstances, if a student drops late start spring courses (within the corresponding add/drop period) to the extent that it adjusts their enrollment level below a threshold required for continued program eligibility, that student could become ineligible for state financial aid in future terms of enrollment. Staff are currently researching and analyzing potential ways to alleviate this issue for students impacted by the Coronavirus.

Withdrawals

Some state financial aid programs require students to continuously enroll in order to maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment (examples: All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship, Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant). 

The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship requires the student to receive scholarship funds in the previous term of enrollment in order to qualify in future terms of enrollment.  Therefore, as long as a student earns a portion of the scholarship disbursement in a term of enrollment in which the student subsequently fully withdraws, that student will maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment.

Satisfactory academic progress

Students must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements, according to the provisions of the Higher Education Act, as amended, to maintain eligibility for state financial aid.

Scholarship/grant disbursement reporting deadlines

Please keep us appraised of your ability to meet the scholarship/grant reporting deadlines published in Chapter 3 of the Iowa Student Financial Aid Guide. If you need an accommodation to an upcoming scholarship/grant reporting deadline, please let us know in writing