The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offers several provisions to help higher education institutions respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The FAQ list below was designed to answer your questions on how these policies impact your institution and offer support as you evolve your digital / virtual strategy for staff and students.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What is the CARES Act?

The CARES Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. This bill allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that money, approximately $14 billion was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

The CARES Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. This bill allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that money, approximately $14 billion was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

There are several ways to use funds from the CARES Act for college students. Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act allows the Recipient to use up to fifty (50) percent of the funds received to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus so long as such costs do not include payment to contractors for the provision of pre-enrollment recruitment activities, including marketing and advertising; endowments; or capital outlays associated with facilities related to athletics, sectarian instruction, or religious worship (collectively referred to as “Recipient’s Institutional Costs”).

Section 18004(c) also requires the Recipient to use no less than fifty (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 (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

Institutions were given one calendar year (365 days) from the date of award in their HEERF Grant Award Notification (GAN) to complete the performance of their HEERF grants.

For example, if a grantee received a GAN on April 7, 2020, the one calendar year period of performance for its HEERF grant would be through April 6, 2021. After the one calendar year period of performance, a grantee has 90 days to liquidate (or make final payment on) previously obligated funds. Grant closeout procedures are described in more detail in 2 CFR § 200.343. The point of emergency funds is to spend them immediately to cover costs or losses, as applicable, associated with the emergency.

For more detailed information about how to apply for CARES Act funds or how the CARES Act impacts higher education institutions, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

According to the CARES Act and HEERF guidelines, institutional funds can be used to support the transition to virtual activities, purchase PPE, or support other innovative learning methods that would allow an institution to engage in student support activities authorized under the HEA during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watermark’s solutions can help your institution transition from manual, paper-based processes to electronic processes in the support of a virtual or remote working environment.

These solutions include:

Next steps
Let’s review your CARES Act funding and discuss ways you can allocate those dollars to solutions that will help your students and institution through this crisis and beyond. Submit the form below and a member of our team will reach out.

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