What is the CARES Act?
The CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020 to help address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Among its provisions, the CARES Act created a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to provide students emergency grants for expenses related to the “disruption of campus operations” because of COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) distributed the funding to schools which, in turn, are responsible for distributing the emergency grants directly to their students.
The CARES Act also required universities to post specific disclosures regarding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Those disclosures are included on this page.
How much did CWRU receive?
Former Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder signed the required CARES Act funding Certification and Agreement, which confirmed that the university would apply no less than 50 percent of total CARES Act funding received to students in the form of emergency grants. The university submitted this document to USDOE on April 11, 2020. The required Certification and Agreement acknowledged that CWRU will comply.
Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) was allocated and received a total of $4,514,182 from the federal government. The university distributed half of that amount, $2,257,091 directly to students for emergency financial grants. The remaining half or institutional portion, $2,257,091, was used to provide reimbursement to the university for room and board. The final Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report for the institutional portion for the quarter ending September 30, 2020 is made publicly available here.*
The university has distributed all of the emergency grant funds allocated by the CARES Act and the September 30, 2020 quarterly report includes all of the CARES Act funds spent.
How were the emergency grants distributed?
In 2019, Case Western Reserve established a Student Emergency Fund to assist students experiencing financial hardship due to unexpected developments. This fund has provided multiple grants to assist students with expenses related to educational disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic required.
The USDOE restricted CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund emergency grants to students eligible to participate in federal student aid programs. The university determined the total number of CWRU students eligible to participate in federal student aid programs by identifying enrolled students who filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Approximately 6,200 enrolled CWRU students filed a FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year.
When determining how to distribute CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund emergency grants, CWRU prioritized students who demonstrated the greatest financial need per their FAFSA submissions. Three-quarters of the total funding went to financially needy undergraduates, while the remaining 25 percent to graduate and professional students. The university allocated the greater share to undergraduates because they were more likely to have incurred greater expenses in having to move home or find off-campus housing as a result of the university’s closure of most residence halls. The proportions also align with the federal government’s approach to determining CWRU’s allocation: 75 percent of the amount awarded to colleges and universities was based on the number of full-time federal Pell Grant recipients–an exclusively undergraduate-focused measure.
The methodology used to determine CWRU distribution is outlined below. All students, however, must already have submitted a valid Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and been enrolled in the spring 2020 semester.
Undergraduate Amounts: Undergraduate students must have had an expected family contribution (EFC) as determined by the FAFSA of less than $20,000. Federal Pell Grant recipients received $1,442.42 and eligible students who were not eligible for Federal Pell Grants received $1,153.94.
Graduate Amounts: Graduate and professional students must have borrowed federal student loans in the spring semester of 2020 to pay for their CWRU educational expenses. Each of these students received $275.52.
Funds to 3,340 students were applied as credits to their student accounts on June 3, 2020, and were refunded to the students on June 5, 2020. Funds were sent via direct deposit if the student had set up direct deposit in the Student Information System (SIS). If the student had not set up direct deposit in SIS, a paper check was sent to the student's permanent address.
Each student eligible for the CARES Act stimulus funds was sent the following email detailing their eligibility, direction on next steps and who they contact with questions.
We hope that this email finds you and your family in good health. We recognize that you faced many challenges this spring as the COVID-19 pandemic required the university’s transition to remote education and, for most, the closing of campus residence halls. These disruptions affected not only the nature and location of your learning, but in many cases also involved added expenses related to travel, technology and other needs.
In recognition of the broad economic impact the pandemic would have on the country, the U.S. Congress passed a significant economic stimulus bill that the President quickly signed this spring. Known as the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), the measure includes funding for colleges and universities to assist students in managing the financial effects of the pandemic.
Now that we have had an opportunity to review the guidelines the U.S. Department of Education developed regarding CARES Act support for students, we are distributing these funds to students demonstrating the greatest financial need as indicated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) they submitted in 2019. We are pleased to share that, per your FAFSA, you have qualified to receive support.
The university will issue these funds per the direct deposit information provided in the Student Information System (SIS). If you have not provided direct deposit information in SIS, the university will mail a check to the permanent address entered in SIS. We recommend that you verify direct deposit or permanent address information no later than June 4, 2020. The federal education department’s guidance stipulates that we must distribute these funds directly to you; the amount cannot be carried to help pay for a future term.
We provide more information about the CARES Act and Case Western Reserve’s distribution of this funding at https://case.edu/financialaid/.
We look forward to seeing you on campus again soon.
Vice President of Enrollment Management