Although the University is anxious to provide Emergency grants to students, we felt it prudent to hold off in finalizing plans for awards until we received guidance from The US Department of Education. The guidance issued on April 21, 2020 advising that these emergency grant funds could only be issued to students who were eligible to receive Title IV financial aid, necessitated a revision to our process and awarding plans. Additionally, we sought guidance on the tax implication and treatment of grants to ensure that we could properly fulfill our reporting requirements. Our plans for awarding were finalized on May 11, 2020 and a communication sent to students regarding our process and eligibility for Cares Act Emergency Grants.
As of May 18, the University of Vermont has released no funds under Section 18004 (a) (1) directly to students. The application deadline is set for May 25, 2020, after which time the first funds will be released.
As a requirement of being eligible to receive funds under the CARES act, a student must be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended, and that they not be enrolled in an on-line program. As of March 13, 2020, the date that the State of Emergency was declared by President Trump there were 8,429 students at the University of Vermont who could be eligible.
The University of Vermont notified students of the availability of these emergency grant funds under the CARES act by e-mail and provided a link to the online application. In the application, the student needed to certify that they had expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care). They were advised that these funds were not available to cover lost wages. Students were asked to check a box that indicated the areas where they had expenses and to identify an amount. Based on the information provided on the application and the students’ estimated family contribution (as calculated by the US Dept of Education) we determined a maximum amount allowed per application.
Students were advised that these funds are to be used for those additional expenses that are a result of the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.