Public Website Information for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting
Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students Updated 1/15/21
On April 14, 2020 Thomas College signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement for “Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act”. Thomas College intends 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.
Thomas College received $381,133 on May 8, 2020 from the Department to utilize for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
Thomas College has distributed funds to 454 students, as of October 15, 2020, totaling $381,133 under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. We estimate 646 Thomas College students will be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. Thomas College is requiring students to file a FAFSA to determine eligibility.
Thomas College used two method(s) to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. Methodologies were created to ensure any student needing funds to assist with expenses would have access:
- Day Undergraduate and Graduate resident students, at the time students departed campus on March, 18, 2020, at Thomas College were all recognized as having housing, food, and/or utility expenses due to the disruption of campus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This population of students are being awarded based on a tiered, block system created by the College. Students who have a 0 EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) will receive up to $800, students who have an EFC in the range of $1-$2,999 will receive up to $700, EFC of $3,000-$4,999 will receive up to $650, EFC of $5,000-$9,999 will receive up to $550, EFC of $10,000-$14,999 will receive up to $500 and students with and EFC of $15,000 or more will receive up to $250. In order to receive the funds resident students will need to complete a self-certification, through the MyThomas student portal, confirming they had expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 30, 2020 Thomas College made an update to the resident policy, based on student feedback and a financial evaluation, to increase the funding amount to all resident students by $225.
A final outreach was made in October to all previous spring 2020 residents, now learning remote, who chose to do so strictly based on COVID related concerns/reasons.
- Day Undergraduate and Graduate commuter students will be awarded funds based on the same tiered, block system as previously explained. However, due to the difficulty in determining commuter expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic Thomas College is asking this student population to complete a short application for funding along with the self-certification confirming expenses were incurred. Applications will also be made available to commuter students via their MyThomas portal.
On June 23, 2020 Thomas College made an update to the commuter policy, based on collected applications and student needs, to increase funding to commuters calculated using a proration of commuter COA budgets and the date of campus disruption.
Thomas College students are provided information concerning Emergency Financial Aid Grants through email communication and social media. A detailed initial email communication was sent May 12, 2020 by the Senior Director of Student Financial Services. The email included application procedures and how funds will be issued to the student. The content of the initial email communication is provided below. Students were also sent reminders from the Student Financial Services office on May 14, 2020, May 29, 2020, June 1, 2020 and October 6, 2020 .
Subject: An Important Message Concerning Financial Relief Option
As our spring semester comes to a close and we work to bring everyone back to campus this fall, I am excited to share with you a new program that Thomas College is able to offer our current students to assist with the financial ramifications brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Students who have been adversely impacted financially and incurred additional expenses due to the disruption of campus operations on March 18, 2020 from coronavirus, may be eligible for funds granted to institutions of higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) established by the CARES Act. Food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child-care are examples of qualifying expenses under these grants. In order to meet the requirement to “promptly and to the greatest extent practicable” release these funds to students, as signed under the certification agreement, Thomas College is pleased to share the following information with you.
Resident students, as of 3/18/2020, will automatically receive funds under this program to assist with expenses related to relocation. Commuter students will need to complete a very short application, listing specific expenses incurred, that you are now unable to address. Examples of eligible expenses are housing (rent or utilities), transportation, basic needs (groceries), child-care expenses, additional health care expenses (must be COVID related), and access to required resources for remote learning. Applications will be available through our MyThomas website. All students will need to certify they have received, read, and understand this email in order to claim their funds. We do ask, if you are still employed and have not incurred any major additional expenses you consider rejecting these funds for other students who may have an increased need.
A students’ need, as determined by the FAFSA, will be considered when issuing funds. If you have not filed a FAFSA, we highly recommend you do so, as it is required under HEERF ruling that institutions confirm a student is eligible for federal financial aid. Students who choose not to file the FAFSA, international students, and employee dependents (even if eligible through FAFSA), unfortunately, do not qualify for this federal relief program.
Under HEERF guidance, Thomas College may not apply these funds to student billing accounts. This will result in all funds being issued directly to the student. Since these funds will be issued via check, please send us an updated address, if it is different than that listed in the student system, so funds may reach you quickly.
Finally, Thomas College understands that the pandemic may extend into the new academic year. Thus, some funds are being set aside to assist students in the future. If you are a resident or commuter and you continue to have need through the summer please do not hesitate to reach out to me or a member of the team. I am happy to help as best I can to assist you in reaching your educational goals.
I wish you all a safe, healthy, and successful end to the spring term!
Senior Director of Student Financial Services