The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

On April 13, 2020, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UH Hilo) signed and returned to the Department of Education (US DOE) the Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the CARES Act. In doing so, UH Hilo assured that we intended to use no less than fifty percent (50%) of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

UH Hilo has received $1,497,363 from the US DOE pursuant to the Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students that was signed and returned to the US DOE on April 13, 2020.

Emergency Financial Aid Grants

Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of May 21, 2020

Total amount of funds the institution has received for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students: $1,497,363

Total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students: $1,147,050

Total number of students at UH Hilo eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965: 2,303

Total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant: 1,559

Common Questions

Do I have to repay CARES Act money?

No. The funds provided by the CARES Act are grants, so they do not need to be repaid.

Will I owe taxes on CARES Act grant money?

No. According to the Internal Revenue Service CARES FAQ, the grants under the CARES Act are qualified disaster relief payments.

What can CARES Act money be used for?

Emergency financial aid grants to students can be used for cost of attendance expenses, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.

Will CARES Act money affect my financial aid?

No. These emergency financial aid grants are not counted toward your financial aid eligibility.

Funding Methodology

UH Hilo used the following methodology to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

  1. Maximum amount of award $750 based on funding available and number of eligible students.
  2. Identify Eligible Students
    1. Title IV Eligible Students
      1. Enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree, certificate or other recognized educational credential (including a program of study abroad approved for credit by the eligible institution at which such student is enrolled)--that is, a regular student under 34 CFR 600.2);
      2. Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school and have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent;
      3. Be maintaining satisfactory academic progress (SAP) if the student is a currently enrolled student;
      4. Not owe an overpayment (refund) on Title IV grants;
      5. Not be in default on a Title IV loan;
      6. File with ED “as part of the original financial aid application process” a certification (Statement of Educational Purpose) that includes:
        1. A statement of educational purpose, and
        2. The student’s Social Security Number (SSN);
      7. Be a U.S citizen or national, a permanent resident, or an eligible noncitizen;
      8. Have returned any fraudulently obtained Title IV funds, if the student is convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges;
      9. Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits;
      10. Have repaid any Title IV loan overpayment amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits, if obtained inadvertently
      11. Have his Selective Service registration verified (the Title IV aid ineligibility for failure to register is actually in the Selective Service Act §3811(f));
      12. Have a valid SSN, except for residents of the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau; and
      13. Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.
    2. Not in a Distance Learning Program
      1. Program codes with /D
      2. See UH Hilo Distance Learning Programs
  3. Email Notification is sent to identified students.
  4. Google form requiring student submission is included in email (Form content included at the end of this document)
    1. Captures attestation of expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19
    2. Captures type(s) of expenses
  5. Google forms received by students create and Excel file
    1. Excel file is checked against original list of emailed students to assure that eligible students identified are the students that will be awarded HEERF grant
    2. Excel file is sorted by students who indicate “yes” to the question of expenses in excess of $750 and students who indicate “no.”
    3. Excel file is used to create a file to send to UH Bursars Office for processing of refund for the “yes” students
    4. “No” students will be emailed additional Google form by the Financial Aid Office to determine eligibility for a reduced amount of grant
  6. Excel files collected via Google form will be used to assist with reporting of expenditures to the US Department of Education

Email Notification

An email notice was sent to students identified as eligible for funding on May 5, 2020. A follow-up email was also sent to students who did not respond to the Google form on May 12, 2020.

From: UH Hilo Financial Aid Office uhhfao@hawaii.edu
Date: Mon, May 4, 2020 at 9:50 AM
Subject: ACTION REQ'D: CARES Act Funds
To: XXXXXXXX

University of Hawaii at Hilo

Student ID: XXXXXXXX
Aloha XXXXXXXX,
You have been identified as a student who may be eligible for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF). Please note that this email is unique to your eligibility, so do not forward to others.

Please complete the simple 2 question Google Form while in your hawaii.edu email account by May 13, 2020 to be considered for these funds.

Once we receive your responses and confirm your eligibility, funds will be posted to your student account. Refunds are then processed and sent to your bank account if you have signed up for eRefund. If you have not signed up for eRefund, a check will be mailed to you. Please double check the mailing address we have on file for you. Mailing address corrections and updates can be made online through MyUH Services or in-person at the Office of the Registrar between 9:00am and 2:00pm. At this time, refund checks are not able to be picked up.

If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid Office either by phone at 808-932-7449 or by email at uhhfao@hawaii.edu.

Sincerely,
UH Hilo Financial Aid Office
uhhfao@hawaii.edu