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CARES Act emergency grants frequently asked questions

May 21, 2020

Q: What is the CARES Act and where did the funding for the emergency grants to students come from?

A: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020.  

The CARES Act created the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which provides funds to higher education institutions like Augustana College to grant emergency financial aid to students whose lives have been disrupted and have faced financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 Augustana College submitted its request for these funds to distribute to students along with the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students on April 14, 2020. We received the funds on April 25.  

Grants were distributed to eligible Augustana College students based on demonstrated financial need as determined by the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submitted by the student with an emphasis on providing additional support to students with the most significant demonstrated financial need.  

Augustana College determined that 2,147 students were eligible for grants, and 2,043 grants were distributed. Of these, 534 Pell-eligible students received $974 each; 172 students eligible for the state of Illinois MAP grant received $540.66; and 1,337 students whose Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) was greater than $8,999 received $300.

Read more about the CARES Act/HEERF.

Q: How much HEERF funding did Augustana College receive?

A: Augustana College received $1.045 million to provide emergency grants to students who have incurred expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.    

These emergency grants are intended to help eligible students with expenses related to the changes in campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, technology, transportation and health care expenses.  

The amount Augustana College received to disburse to eligible students was determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on the number of Pell Grant-eligible students enrolled (75% of the weight), and the overall enrollment at Augustana College (25% of the weight).  

Q: Who is eligible to receive an emergency grant?

A: All Augustana College degree-seeking students who remained enrolled for the spring 2020 semester and who are eligible to participate in Title IV programs under Section 484  of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.  

Students with a 2019-20 FAFSA on file, and who were eligible to receive Title IV funds, demonstrated their eligibility to receive an emergency grant.  

Students who may be eligible but have not submitted a 2019-20 FAFSA have until June 30, 2020, to submit a 2019-20 FAFSA to demonstrate their eligibility for an emergency grant.  

The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include, but are not limited to:  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 home-school setting.

Q: Did I have to fill out a FAFSA to receive an emergency grant?

A: Yes. Augustana College used the 2019-20 FAFSA to demonstrate eligibility to receive the emergency grant and to determine the amount of the grant a student is eligible to receive.

Students who believe they are eligible to receive a grant but did not submit a 2019-20 FAFSA to Augustana  have until June 30, 2020 to be considered for an emergency grant.  

Students may file the 2019-20 FAFSA using Augustana’s school code 001633.

Q: Do I need to apply for the emergency grant?

A: No. Students do not need to complete a separate application, other than the 2019-20 FAFSA, to receive emergency grant funding.  

Emergency grants will be disbursed to students by Augustana College, and all eligible students will receive a check sent via the Postal Service.

Q: How will I know if I am eligible to receive an emergency grant?

A: Students eligible to receive an emergency grant will be notified by the college via email and will receive a check in the mail.

Q: How much will my emergency grant be?

A: Grant amounts vary by student based on their demonstrated financial need. All eligible students were divided into three groups based on their Expected Family Contributions (EFC).   Each group was allocated an emergency grant amount between $300 and $975, with the highest amount going to students demonstrating the greatest demonstrated financial need and lowest EFC.  

The amount of HEERF funding that higher education institutions received varied based on the Department of Education's allocation formula.    

Each institution receiving HEERF funds was required to develop its own method of disbursing the funds to eligible enrolled students, within the guidelines set out by the Department of Education. That means that the amount of the emergency grants issued to students by Augustana College will not be the same as at other colleges.

Group 1: Students with the lowest EFC between 0 - 5,576  (Pell Grant eligible) received a grant of $975.

Group 2: Students with the middle tier of EFC between 5,577-8,999  (Map Grant equivalent) received a grant of $540.46.

Group 3:  Students with an  EFC in excess of 8,999  received a grant of $300.

Q: How will I receive my emergency grant?

A: Emergency grants will be sent via check to a student's current mailing address.

Q: When will I receive my emergency grant?

A: Augustana College expects to mail emergency grants on or before May 30, 2020.   

Q: How can I use the emergency grant money?

A: The grant is intended to reimburse students for expenses incurred due to the changes that occurred at Augustana College as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Costs for food, technology, course materials, health care and transportation are examples of expenses students incurred.

Q: Is the emergency grant taxable?

A: Please see guidance from the IRS.

Q: Will this impact a student's financial aid for 2019-20?

A: No. The emergency grant is not considered federal financial aid and is not considered a resource when determining financial aid eligibility.

Q: Whom do I contact if I have questions?

A: For questions about the disbursement of the emergency grant, please contact

For questions regarding the 2019-20 FAFSA email You may complete the 2019-20 FAFSA online. Augustana’s school code is 001633.