After a frustrating delay in the disbursement of funds to MacMurray College, we received our CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act disbursement for student refunds on July 7. After processing, checks were mailed to students on July 13.

Disbursement of CARES funds to MacMurray had been under review by the U.S. Department of Education for several weeks. We disagreed with the review and worked diligently to convince the Department to disburse the funds to us.

We are deeply grateful to U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, our local Member of Congress, and his staff for their outreach to the Department and full support in working to expedite release of the funds. President Beverly Rodgers also thanked John Nicolay, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Teresa Smith, Interim Chief Financial Officer; and Pam Harpole, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, for their tireless efforts to release funds for student refunds.

President Rodgers expressed regret for the delay and thanks students for their patience.

FAQs Regarding the CARES Act

What is the CARES Act?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law in March 2020, provides economic relief to institutions of higher education and to students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act requires recipient institutions to use at least 50 percent of the funds received to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus.

How much CARES Act funding will be distributed to MacMurray College?

MacMurray was awarded $677,656. Of that amount, the student portion of $338,828 has been received. The remaining funds are to offset unanticipated expenses related to disruption of college operations due to COVID-19. As of July 13, 2020, MacMurray had not received the second installment of CARES funds and is working with DOE to expedite disbursement.

When will MacMurray College distribute CARES Act funding?

MacMurray received the funds for students the week of July 6 and, after processing the funds, reconciling student accounts, and preparing checks, put checks for students in the mail on July 13, 2020.

How much will each student receive? How is the amount determined?

Each eligible student receives $767.45. Students must meet Title IV eligibility, defined in Section 484 of the Higher Education Act. This mandates that students:

Does this mean the balance of students' accounts has been paid?

No, receipt of these funds does not indicate the student has satisfied their financial obligations to MacMurray College for any charges incurred during the spring 2020 term or any terms prior. Each student should check their account to determine current balance.

Can this money be used to pay off any outstanding MacMurray College balance?

Yes. MacMurray College is not authorized to apply CARES Act funds toward any outstanding balances that may still be owed by a student. However, once the a student receives the payment of funds, they may choose to use the funds to pay off their outstanding account balance.

Does this money count against a student's financial aid package?

No.

Is money received from the CARES Act considered taxable income?

No. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on May 7, 2020, that these funds will not be taxable. "Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant is not includible in your gross income."

Are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and international students eligible for CARES Act funds?

No. Guidance issued by the Department of Education indicates that students must be eligible to submit a FAFSA in order to qualify for the CARES Act funds. This limits eligibility only to U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, or other Title IV eligible non-citizens.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund - Student Aid

Information for Students

The CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund-IHE/Student Aid provides funding to institutions to provide emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet. Students cannot apply for assistance directly from the U.S. Department of Education but should contact their institutions for further information and guidance. Institutions have the responsibility of determining how grants will be distributed to students, how the amount of each student grant is calculated, and the development of any instructions or directions that are provided to students about the grant.

Please note that the Department will soon be announcing a deadline by which institutions of higher education must apply for the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) funding under section 18004a(1) of the CARES Act. A formal notice will be published in the Federal Register in the near future.

CARES Act Information

Per the Department of Education in its May 6, 2020 guidance regarding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), the following information must appear in a format and location that is easily accessible to the public 30 days after the date (April 20, 2020) when the institution received its allocation under 18004(a) (1) and updated every 45 days thereafter:

Requirement: An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned the certification and agreement form and that the institution has used, or intends to use the funds to provide the mandated amount of at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students.

Requirement: The total amount of funds that the institution will receive, or has received under the HEERF student portion.

Requirement: The total number of students who will receive an emergency financial aid grant.

Requirement: How the institution determined which students did, or will receive emergency financial aid grants and how much funding they did, or will receive.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under Section 18004 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act, which establishes and funds the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), directs institutions of higher education ("institutions") to use no less than 50 percent of funds received under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. These FAQs address only those funds provided by the Secretary to an institution for emergency financial aid grants to students under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act.

1) Can institutions that have provided refunds to students for room and board, tuition, and other fees (such as activities fees) reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to use no less than 50 percent of HEERF funds received under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act to provide emergency financial aid grants to students. These funds distributed by the Department represent the 50 percent minimum of each institution's HEERF funds under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act for these emergency financial aid grants to students. Section 2 of the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students states: "Recipient shall not use [these] funds to reimburse itself for any costs or expenses, including but not limited to any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and/or any refunds or other benefits that Recipient previously issued to students."

Institutions will have more flexibility in the use of the portion of the HEERF that is made available to cover an institution's costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. The Department will provide a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document regarding the allowable uses of funds for an institution's costs shortly after making those funds available to institutions.

2) Can institutions that have provided information technology hardware (such as laptops, hotspot internet devices, etc.) and other related equipment to students reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to provide the emergency financial aid grants to students. Section 2 of the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students states: "Recipient shall not use [these] funds to reimburse itself for any costs or expenses, including but not limited to any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and/or any refunds or other benefits that Recipient previously issued to students."

Institutions will have more flexibility in the use of the portion of the HEERF that is made available to cover an institution's costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. The Department will provide a FAQ document regarding the allowable uses of funds for an institution's costs shortly after making those funds available to institutions.

3) Can institutions that have provided institutionally-funded emergency grants to students as a result of COVID-19 reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

The only institutionally-funded emergency grants to students that are eligible for reimbursement from the funds for emergency financial aid grants to students under the CARES Act are grants: 1) for authorized expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus as set forth in Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act; 2) made to students eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act; and 3) made on or after March 27, 2020, the date the CARES Act was enacted. An institution must use no less than 50 percent of funds provided pursuant to Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) for emergency financial aid grants to students. An institution must document that reimbursements for institutionally-funded emergency grants to students are made in accordance with the CARES Act.

4) Can institutions that have continued to pay student workers from institutional funds for campus jobs reimburse themselves from the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to provide the emergency financial aid grants to students, and institutions may not use that portion of the HEERF set aside for emergency financial aid grants to students for this purpose. The Department notes that Congress has provided additional flexibility to institutions relating to the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program, including that institutions may continue to pay FWS wages to students for the remainder of the current academic year in instances in which those students' jobs were interrupted as a result of the national emergency due to the coronavirus, as long as those students had started employment prior to this national emergency. The CARES Act also waives the non-federal wage match requirement for institutional and non-profit employers of FWS students. Please see the Department's Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus, which provides additional information about the FWS Program.

The Department will provide a FAQ document regarding the allowable uses of funds for an institution's costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus shortly after making those funds available to institutions.

5) Can institutions use the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students to pay outstanding or overdue student bills to institutions?

No. The CARES Act requires institutions to provide the emergency financial aid grants to students. The institution may not use that portion of the HEERF set aside for emergency financial aid grants to students to satisfy a student's outstanding account balance. The Department notes that the student may use his or her emergency financial aid grant for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

6) What data will the Department require institutions to report after disbursement of emergency financial aid grants to students?

As explained in the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, each institution will report to the Secretary the following: how grants were distributed to students, how the amount of each grant was calculated, and any instructions or directions that the institution gave to students about the grant. Institutions must also comply with the reporting requirements under Section 15011 of the CARES Act. The Department will publish a notice in the Federal Register to provide instructions to institutions on these reporting requirements.

7) What obligation does an institution have to continue to pay all its employees after accepting the funds for the emergency financial aid grants to students?

The CARES Act requires each institution that accepts funds from the HEERF, including funds used to pay emergency financial aid grants, to continue to pay employees and contractors to the greatest extent practicable based on the unique financial circumstances of each institution; however, institutions may not use emergency financial aid grants to students to pay employees and contractors.

8) Are incarcerated students participating in the Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Initiative (ESI) eligible for emergency financial aid grants to students?

The CARES Act expressly requires that institutions provide the emergency financial aid grants to students "for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student's cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare)." If an incarcerated individual who is participating in the Second Chance Pell experiment is released from incarceration as a result of the national emergency due to the coronavirus, remains enrolled as a student in the program under the Second Chance Pell experiment, and has such expenses, he or she likely qualifies for an emergency financial aid grant. A person who remains incarcerated is unlikely to incur these expenses and would thus be ineligible. Accordingly, for students participating in the Second Chance Pell ESI, institutions will need to review on a case-by-case basis what, if any, expenses an incarcerated person, or a formerly incarcerated person released due to the coronavirus, has incurred due to the disruption of campus operations.

9) What students are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF?

Only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants. If a student has filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then the student has demonstrated eligibility to participate in programs under Section 484 the HEA. Students who have not filed a FAFSA but who are eligible to file a FAFSA also may receive emergency financial aid grants. The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include but are not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting.

10) Will funds provided through the CARES Act be included in an institution's 90/10 calculation?

Funds paid directly to institutions by the Department through the HEERF will not be included as revenue for 90/10 purposes.

11) How must institutions pay the emergency financial aid grants to students?

Institutions may provide emergency financial aid grants to students using checks, electronic transfer payments, debit cards, and payment apps that adhere to the Department's requirements for paying credit balances to students. The disbursement of the emergency financial aid grant to the student must remain unencumbered by the institution; debts, charges, fees, or other amounts owed to the institution may not be deducted from the emergency financial aid grant. The emergency financial aid grant may not be made to students through the use of a credit card that can be used only on campus or in a retail outlet affiliated with the institution.

12) At institutions that provide both online and ground-based education, are students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs prior to the national emergency due to the coronavirus eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants?

At institutions that provide both online and ground-based education, those students who were enrolled exclusively in an online program on March 13, 2020, the date of the President's Proclamation, "Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak," Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 53 at 15337-38, are not eligible for emergency financial aid grants. The formula provided by Congress for calculating the distribution of funds to institutions excludes students who were exclusively enrolled in distance education courses. Additionally, the emergency financial aid grants to students are for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, and students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs would not have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

13) Where can institutions locate additional resources and information related to emergency financial aid grants to students?

CARES Act grant resources and guidance are located on the Office of Postsecondary Education's webpage: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/caresact.html