CARES Act Background
On March 27th, 2020, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which President Trump signed into law. This bipartisan economic stimulus legislation contained significant resources for states, hospitals, businesses, organizations, families, and individuals to address the economic impact of COVID-19. For more information about the CARES Act and the University of Nebraska, visit nebraska.edu/CARES.
Education Stabilization Fund
The CARES Act included the Education Stabilization Fund, which provided support for K-12 and higher education. The school allocations were largely based on the number of students from lower-income families in attendance. The higher education portion of the Education Stabilization Fund is titled the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), of which the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) was initially allocated $15,628,700. The first half of the funding authorized by the HEERF was designated exclusively for emergency grants to students and the second half of the funding was designated to help institutions. For students, that was $7,614,350 to UNL students and $200,000 to students at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) for emergency financial assistance grants.
Student Allocation of the CARES Act at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
On April 29, 2020, Nebraska reported how it would distribute the funds to students through Nebraska Today. Further details about the process and administration of the student allocation are as follows: On April 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the student allocation of the stimulus funding for higher education through the CARES Act. The announcement included details about the process, including the allocation and the application process via a Certification of Agreement through grants.gov. More information is available on the U.S. Department of Education website at ed.gov/coronavirus.
- Nebraska signed and returned the Certification of Agreement on April 15, 2020 confirming that Nebraska intended to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. On April 24, 2020, Nebraska received the award notification.
- The amount of the allocation awarded to Nebraska for student emergency grants was $7,814,350 for UNL and NCTA students.
- As of March 31, 2021, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act was $7,814,350 to 6,936 students. This was out of a an estimated total number of 12,819 students at UNL and NCTA eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus potentially eligible to receive the Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
- In alignment with ED’s recommendations that institutions prioritize students based on their socioeconomic circumstances providing for emergency financial aid grants, students could receive CARES funds in one of two ways, recognizing that many students were impacted by the COVID-19 disruption to campus operations:
- About three-fourths of the federal funds would be distributed to students via direct grants, based upon their demonstrated need as calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid previously submitted for the 2019-20 academic year. Students eligible for these funds would receive an email from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid indicating that they qualify for this grant, and they would need to fill out a simple form indicating they were adversely financially impacted by COVID-19. Those grants would begin to be distributed by May 8th. Approximately 5,200 UNL students would be eligible to receive $1,200 payments through this mechanism.
- Remaining funds would be distributed in the form of emergency grants to cover unexpected costs such as housing, food, technology, or health care that resulted from the pandemic. Students would receive an email from Scholarships and Financial Aid indicating that they may qualify. To apply for those funds, students would login to their MyRED portal and click on the financial aid tab, where they would find a link to an application. There was no deadline to apply for an emergency grant, but students were urged to apply as soon as possible because funds were limited. Eligibility was to be determined based on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and requests would be reviewed promptly.
- Eligible students were emailed with instructions to either login to MyRED and navigate to theFinancial Aid To Do List to claim the $1,200 federal grant support through CARES Act emergency funds based on expenses incurred due to COVID-19 or login to MyRED and navigate to the Financial Aid tab to access the Federal CARES Act Emergency funds application to request assistance with expenses incurred due to COVID-19. Student recipients of an emergency grant received a message. A copy of that message can be found here.
Student Grant Allocation of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF)
CARES Act (HEERF I)
- CARES Act (HEERF I) Student Grant initial report
- CARES Act (HEERF I) Student Grant second report
- CARES Act (HEERF I) Student Grant third report
CRRSA Act (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations)
In December 2020, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act), which was signed into law. The CRRSA provided additional funding for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). On January 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced the student allocation portion of these supplemental funds. The Univeristy of Nebraska-Lincoln distribution of the student aid portion of this supplemental HEERF allocation was utilized similarly to the CARES Act distribution in 2020 for enrolled students.
- As of March 31, 2021, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students through Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized by the CARES Act and the CRRSA Act was $14,278,745 to 10,417 students (UNL and NCTA).
HEERF Institutional Allocation
HEERF I, II, & III
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was awarded a total of $45,031,125 of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding (HEERF) to prevent, prepare for, & respond to coronavirus. The funding was awarded in three phases:
$7,814,350 - CARES: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (HEERF I)
$16,056,734 - CRRSAA: Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (HEERF II)
$21,160,041 - ARP: American Rescue Plan (HEERF III)
The funds are available to defray expenses associated with coronavirus, carry out student support activities authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965 that address needs related to coronavirus, & make additional financial aid grants to students. Under section 2003(5) of the ARP, a portion of the institutional funds must be used to (a) implement evidence-based practices to monitor & suppress coronavirus in accordance with public health guidelines & (b) conduct direct outreach to financial aid applicants about the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to the recent unemployment of a family member or independent student, or other circumstances, described in section 479A of the HEA (20 USC § 1087tt).
As of September 30, 2021, the total amount of HEERF funding received was $21,755,688. The required quarterly budget & expenditure forms in PDF can be accessed through the following links:
- CARES Act Budget & Expenditure Report 09-30-2020 (pdf)
- CARES Act Budget & Expenditure Report 12-31-2020 (pdf)
- CARES Act Budget & Expenditure Report 03-31-2021 (pdf)
- CARES Act Budget & Expenditure FINAL Report 06-30-2021 (pdf)
- CRRSAA Budget & Expenditure Report 03-31-2021
- CRRSAA Budget & Expenditure Report 06-30-2021
- ARP Budget & Expenditure Report 06-30-2021
- 00256500_HEERF_Q32021_101021 09-30-2021