Although the University was anxious to immediately 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 by email regarding our process and eligibility for Cares Act Emergency Grants.
- As of May 18, 2020: The initial reporting deadline, the University of Vermont had released no funds under Section 18004 (a) (1) directly to students. The initial application deadline was set for May 25, 2020, after which time the first funds were released.
- As of July 7, 2020: 1,003 students have been awarded a CARES Grant for a total awarded amount of $1,600,502.45.
- As of August 21, 2020: 1,449 students have been awarded a CARES Grant for a total awarded amount of $2,272,953.09.
- As of September 30, 2020: 1,797 students have been awarded a CARES Grant for a total awarded amount of $3,248,666.14
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 they cannot 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 an 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 for each area. Decisions on grant amounts were based on the information provided on the application, while bearing in mind the goal to assist the students with most need while also assisting as many students as possible. The application had an initial deadline date of May 25, 2020, in order to guage the level of need in order to determine a fair and meaningful max grant amount. After the initial deadline, the application has been left open and a review of new applications is completed every 1-2 weeks to award additional grants. Additionally, due to the sudden nature of the disruption of campus operations in the spring term, most students had left belongings in their rooms. The University contracted with a vendor to pack, ship and/or store belongings for the students. Students eligible for CARES Act Emergency Grant funding were awarded a CARES Act Emergency Grant to be utilized to pay the charge assessed by the vendor. Students were sent an email explaining how the grant funds may be used.
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.