Current college students who are seeking emergency aid, reinstatement of Federal Workstudy wages, or who need to withdraw for the semester, should check their institution’s financial aid webpage or contact their school’s financial aid office if no information is available.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history and will allocate $2.2 trillion in support to individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic and economic downturn. The CARES Act includes $30.75 billion in emergency support for local school systems (PK-12) and higher education institutions to aid students whose education has been disrupted as a result of this unprecedented public health crisis.
Update! On April 9th, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the first distribution of funds to institutions of higher education through the CARES Act, requiring dollars be used for emergency aid for students.
Institutions receiving these funds:
Can use funds for any allowable item in cost of attendance, including food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.
Are encouraged to consider a maximum award per student equal to the maximum Pell Grant of $6,195.
Can award these funds to any enrolled student, including undocumented students
Are strongly discouraged from counting these funds as estimated financial aid when considering a family’s EFC for either academic year 2019-20 or 2020-21.
Are permitted to continue to make federal work-study payments to individuals who were participating in work-study but are unable to fulfill their obligation due to the outbreak
Additional relief from CARES Act:
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) & Leave of absence
Institutions may exclude attempted credits not completed by a student from the SAP calculation due to qualifying COVID-19 related emergency
Typically, students must earn 67% of credits attempted to remain in “SAP”
Students who cannot complete the semester are not required to return any financial aid already received by the institution. Students may leave without worry of penalty to their SAP.
Student Loan Borrowers
Student loan interest is frozen on all federal student loans through Sept. 30. This is for both currently enrolled students and borrowers in repayment. Further, borrowers of federally held loans do not need to make payments during this time period. All Direct Loans (those issued in 2010 or later) are federally held, but older FFEL program loans can be privately held and are not covered by this exemption.
For more information regarding emergency funding for students included in Congress' CARES Act, please see NCAN’s 4/2/20 webinar
Table of Contents
Alumni Emergency Assistance Fund
August 23, 2020 UPDATE: Renewed Guidelines for Alumni Emergency Assistance Funds
As announced at the recent Summit on College Success, the national office is modifying its guidelines for the use of remaining Alumni Emergency Assistance funds and Enrollment and Housing Deposit funds distributed to Cristo Rey schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the Network, school teams anticipate that the emergency needs of Cristo Rey alumni will persist into the fall. In an effort to stay true to the original intention of these funds when launched i March and April of this year please note the following guidance and renewed guidelines in the FAQ section below for continued expenditure:
Alumni Emergency Assistance Fund: all remaining funds must continue to be expended to support alumni emergency needs.
Enrollment and Housing Deposit Funds: Any remaining funds may now be shifted to alumni emergency assistance.
College Success Fund Wave II: Any remaining funds must be rolled over to next year.
March 21, 2020 UPDATE: Alumni Emergency Assistance funding request increments increased to $3,000
In light of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak and its potential impact on Cristo Rey alumni due to college dorm closures or cancellation of classes, we have assembled a Cristo Rey Network Alumni Emergency Assistance Fund intended for Cristo Rey schools to alleviate expenses directly related to changes in college campus operations.
Through the generosity of donors, we have received two major gift commitments to help rapidly meet the needs of alumni. We have amended our process to increase school access to resources and have immediately deployed $2,000 to each Cristo Rey school that has responded to communications and currently has graduates.
Each school may request additional funds after the initial $2,000 is expended, using this application form. Individual requests in increments of $3,000 will be considered depending on the availability of funds, and after the submission of an expense report to the national office for the first wave of assistance.
Alumni Assistance Fund Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible?
Any student currently enrolled in two-year college, four-year college, or graduate school
Who should submit the request for funding?
Alumni Advisors or school designee
Eligible alumni needs for ALL college students:
Beginning July 31, 2020 Alumni Emergency Assistance funds may be expended to support any alumni need that falls under Cost of Attendance, which includes, as defined by FAFSA:
Tuition and fees
Room and Board
As well as other needs previously identified as an eligible purpose through the Alumni Emergency Assistance funds:
Food stipend, storage, technology, and temporary housing, change fees for previously purchased transportation
up to $300 for technological devices necessary for online learning (chromebook recommended, $199) Please DO NOT share the dollar amount cap in your external communications, as to ensure funds are available for other needs
Funding Expenditure Amounts per Student
Fund are now capped at $500 per student.
*if you identify alumni needs that exceed the $500 cap, you must receive approval from your school president and the national office team (Audrey Michaelson at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Purpose of Funds
The purpose of launching the Alumni Emergency Assistance Fund is to meet the urgent financial needs of as many Cristo Rey graduates as possible. It is expected that Cristo Rey school staff exercise due diligence in making funding decisions.
Please consider the following guidelines when allocating emergency assistance funds to support graduates:
Limit disbursement of cash stipends by making direct purchases for requested items (ex. Technology; Equipment; gift cards; ship items to students via shared amazon link). When provision of stipends is necessary, it is recommended that schools send funds using Venmo.
Do not disperse funds for grocery or food expense in amounts that exceed $75 per week, and for no more than two-week increments.
Please ensure that advisors work with graduates to seek all other resources available through their college or university before dispersing funds.
Following the recent June 1, 2020 report, the next report deadline for Alumni Emergency Assistance funds, whether they are remaining enrollment and housing deposit funds or AEF funds recently received or leftover from the Spring, will be September 30, 2020 or before each additional request for assistance funds.
To complete all future reports for Alumni Emergency Assistance funds, please complete this report form in full, attaching all required receipts and proof of enrollment. Please submit all expense report forms to Audrey Michaelson at email@example.com.
Reporting requirements will include the following:
Proof of enrollment (ex. Screenshot of current semester courses; Tuition payment confirmation; written statement from student and/or their assigned academic advisor)
Description of the request for emergency assistance
How need was met using emergency assistance funds (ex. Gift card; school purchase of computer)
Timeline of school closure
Impact of college or university closure on the student’s education and plans for continuation.
Attached receipts whenever possible.
Thank you for your efforts to meet the emerging needs of alumni as they navigate the ever-changing circumstances with their institutions of higher education.
Resources for Cristo Rey Network Alumni
The following resources are available to college students:
Financial aid appeal letter examples for alumni whose financial circumstances have changed.
For all low-income students and families in need of internet services, Comcast has announced a comprehensive response to COVID-19, including two free months of high-speed internet services and access to free wifi-hotspots throughout the country. Both Comcast and T-Mobile have suspended internet caps for the next 60 days.
Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance from 3/13-9/30, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment.
Resources for Alumni Advisors
Additional Resources for Alumni Advisors:
College Greenlight national repository of COVID-19 related resources can be found here
NCAN Webinar on CARES Act (strongly recommended for all counselors’ review)
Sample letter/email for alumni outreach regarding the assistance fund
Survey template for alumni in need of assistance: “Alumni Emergency Assistance Request- Funding Available - Respond ASAP” (please feel free to make a copy, edit, and share widely)