Reports on the Use of Funds Distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund under the CARES Act

Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”) directs institutions receiving funds under the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the U. S. Secretary of Education) a report describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.  Pending receipt of further instructions for providing the required information to the Department of Education, the following shall serve as Mercer University’s initial report (the “30-day Fund Report) to the Secretary of Education:

  1. On April 13, 2020, Mercer University officials signed and returned the Funding Certification and Agreement to the U. S. Department of Education. The University intends to use no less than fifty percent (50%) of any funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
  2. The University is eligible to receive $2,632,963 pursuant to the University’s Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students. No funds have been drawn down for disbursement as of May 13, 2020.
  3. As of May 13, 2020, no funds have yet been distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  4. As of May 13, 2020, 5,962 Mercer University students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. Another 965 students could demonstrate eligibility by submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  All students who have not previously completed the FAFSA will be given an opportunity to do so before any Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act are distributed.
  5. As of May 13, 2020, no Mercer University students have yet received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  6. The University is currently reviewing Department of Education guidelines to determine the appropriate distribution methodology for this institution.
  7. Mercer University’s Office of Student Financial Planning is currently determining a communication plan and disbursement timeline for distribution of Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

UPDATE: May 19, 2020

The CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant Fund provides emergency financial aid assistance to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, as stipulated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act that was signed into law March 27, 2020. Awards will be distributed to eligible Mercer undergraduate and graduate students based on need, as determined by the 2019-20 FAFSA.

Students eligible for emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, are those who were enrolled for the spring 2020 semester as of March 13, 2020, and who meet all of the following criteria:

  • The student incurred expenses directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care);
  • The student is eligible to receive Title IV funding as determined by having filed the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For a complete list of Title IV eligibility requirements, click here; and
  • The student was NOT exclusively enrolled in distance education or online courses as of March 13, 2020.

Beginning May 19, 2020, the Office of Student Financial Planning will send an electronic CARES Act Application to all eligible students who meet the above criteria. All students who incurred eligible expenses as defined above must return the application no later than Monday, June 1, 2020.

UPDATE:  June 26, 2020

  1. On April 13, 2020, Mercer University officials signed and returned the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students to the U. S. Department of Education. On April 22, 2020, Mercer University officials also signed and returned the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Institutional Portion of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to the U. S. Department of Education. The University has used no less than fifty percent (50%) of the total amount of funds received under the two Agreements referenced above to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students, per the requirements of Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act.
  2. Under the terms of the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, the University was eligible to receive $2,632,963 for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students (“Student Grants”). Under the terms of the Funding Certification and Agreement for the Institutional Portion of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the University was eligible to receive $2,632,962 to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus (“Institutional Costs”).
  3. As of the date of this report, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants that have been distributed to students under Section 18004 (a)(1) of the CARES ACT is $2,632,963.
  4. 6,928 students at Mercer were determined to be eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  5. A total of 4,853 students at Mercer have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  6. The University’s Office of Student Financial Planning sent an Emergency Financial Aid Grant Application to 6,928 students who were determined to be eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. Title-IV eligibility was determined based on completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or an Attestation Form created by the University. Each student receiving an Application was asked to confirm whether he/she had incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. The invitation to submit an Emergency Financial Aid Grant Application was sent to all eligible students by email, and multiple follow-up reminders were sent by email, text message, and telephone.A total of 5,475 students submitted the Emergency Financial Aid Grant Application. Of this total, 4,871 students confirmed that they had incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus; 604 students responded that they had not incurred such expenses.The amount of each Grant award was determined based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and Need. Four (4) need-based ranges were established for undergraduate students and two (2) need-based ranges were established for graduate students. Grant awards were allocated on the basis of these need-based ranges. Emergency Financial Aid Grant awards ranged from $325 to $860 per student.In accordance with Department of Education guidelines, students were required to be Title IV-eligible in order to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grant awards; no awards under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act were made to DACA or international students.
  7. Mercer University’s Office of Student Financial Planning (OSFP) sent an email to eligible students informing them of the availability of CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant Funds. The OSFP then sent a short application to eligible students to determine if they incurred eligible expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. The OSFP determined individual students’ Title-IV eligibility by verifying completion of the FAFSA or by confirming an attestation form created by the OSFP was on file. Further, the University, pursuant to DOE guidelines, posted the CARES Act 30-Day Report on the website.

UPDATE:  August 10, 2020

Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”) directs institutions receiving funds under the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the U. S. Secretary of Education) a report describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.  In accordance with Department of Education guidance, Mercer University’s initial report to the Secretary of Education (the “30-day Fund Report) was published on the institution’s primary website on May 13, 2020.  This initial report was updated 45 days later on June 26, 2020 (the “First 45-day Report”) by publication on the University’s website.  Pending receipt of further instructions for providing the required information to the Department of Education, the following shall serve as Mercer University’s “Second 45-day Report” to the Secretary of Education.

  1. As noted in the June 26, 2020 Update, Mercer University has distributed $2,632,963 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to eligible students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Per the requirements of Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act, this amount is no less than fifty percent (50%) of the total funding received by the University under Section 18004(a) of the CARES Act.
  2. Mercer University has used $2,632,962 of the total funding received by the institution under Section 18004(a) of the Act as partial reimbursement for refunds made to students after March 13, 2020 for housing and food services that the University could no longer provide because of the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
  3. To the greatest extent practicable, the University has continued to pay all of its employees and contractors during the period from March 13, 2020 to the current date.  Any terminations of employees and contractors during this period were in the ordinary course of business operations and for causes unrelated to any disruption or closures associated with coronavirus.

UPDATE:  September 30, 2020

Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”) directs institutions receiving funds under the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the U. S. Secretary of Education) a report describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.  The following shall serve as Mercer University’s report to the Secretary of Education, effective as of September 30, 2020 (the “Effective Date”).

  1. Mercer University has distributed $2,632,963 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to eligible students for expenses they incurred related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. This distribution is equivalent to CARES Act formula grant funds received by the University that were specifically designated for the sole and exclusive purpose of providing emergency financial aid grants to students (the “Student Aid Portion”).  Per the requirements of Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act, this amount is no less than fifty percent (50%) of the total funding received by the University under Section 18004(a) of the CARES Act.  This quarterly posting is the final report that covers all remaining HEERF fund expenditures for Section 18004(a)(1) “Student Aid Portion” funds.
  2. As shown on the form linked below, Mercer University has used $2,632,962 of the funding received under Section 18004(a) of the CARES Act (the “Institutional Portion”) as partial reimbursement for costs related to refunds made to students after March 13, 2020 for housing and food services that the University could no longer provide because of the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. This quarterly posting is the final report that covers all remaining HEERF fund expenditures for Section 18004(a)(1) “Institutional Portion” funds.

    HEERF Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting under CARES Act Section 18004(a)(1) (“Institutional Portion”)

  3. To the greatest extent practicable, the University has continued to pay all of its employees and contractors during the period from March 13, 2020 to the Effective Date.  Any terminations of employees and contractors during this period were in the ordinary course of business operations and for causes unrelated to any disruption or closures associated with coronavirus.