Reports on the Use of Funds Distributed from the Emergency Financial Aid Grants awarded under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

UPDATE: November 24, 2021

Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting for HEERF I, II, and III “Institutional Portion”

UPDATE: October 7, 2021

Mercer University is continuing to disburse the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) as authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Mercer University received a total of $14,166,162 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. $7,204,922 was allocated to the student portion and $6,961,240 was allocated to the institution portion.  As of October 7, 2021, Mercer has distributed $5,547,600 in Financial Aid Emergency Grants from the student portion to 5182 students.  Mercer University will continue to provide quarterly updates for the student portion until all funds have been distributed.

Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting for HEERF I, II, and III “Institutional Portion”

UPDATE: September 17, 2021

  1. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Since Mercer University officials signed and returned the Funding Certification and Agreement to the U.S. Department of Education on April 13, 2020 for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), no additional action was required from the University to receive the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2.
  3. Mercer University received a total of $14,166,162 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. $7,204,922 was allocated to the student portion and $6,961,240 was allocated to the institution portion.
  4. Based on the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Mercer identified students that met the exceptional need eligibility requirements by using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with Pell recipients receiving the highest distribution amount. In addition, for those students who were not eligible to complete the FAFSA, Mercer sent a link the finaid Expected Family Contribution Calculator to determine exceptional need.
  5. On August 24, 2021, eligible graduate and undergraduate students received an email stating they would receive a HEERF III Financial Aid Emergency Grant based on their EFC and we would begin distributing the grants on August 31,2021.
  6. On August 24, 2021, ineligible students received an email stating they did not meet the exceptional need criteria for one of the following reasons:
    1. Not enrolled at least half-time
    2. Do not have a FAFSA on file (Citizen, eligible non-citizen
    3. Do not have a calculated EFC using finaid (International and Undocumented)
  7. The ineligible email notified students that they had the opportunity to appeal based on special circumstances and an appeal link was included in the email.
  8. Mercer began distributing ARP Financial Aid Emergency Grants on August 31, 2021 and has distributed $5,459,900 to date.
  9. Mercer identified 5,116 students that met the exceptional need requirement and distributed ARP Emergency Financial Aid Grants to 5,116
  10. The remaining funds will be distributed to new entering students who meet the requirements and to students based on an appeal throughout the academic year on a first-come, first-serve basis.

UPDATE: July 19, 2021

  1. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2 which was signed into law on March 11, 2021. ARP funds are in addition to funds authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, and the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law 116-136.
  2. Institutions that received HEERF I grant funds under the CARES Act were not required to submit an application for the HEERF II or HEERF III grant. Mercer University received its HEERF III Grant Award Notification on June 17, 2021. Mercer University will use no less than $7,204,922 (the student portion) of the funds received under Section 2003(a)(1) of the Act CFDA 84.425E Allocation to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
  3. The total amount of funds that Mercer University received from the Department is $7,204922 pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
  4. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants that has been distributed to students under Section 2003(a)(1) of the ARP Act as of the 30 days after the date of submission is $0 as of July 16, 2021.
  5. The estimated total amount of students that are eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid has yet to be determined.  As of July 17, 2021, the University is developing its strategy for distributing HEERF III funds.
  6. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 2003(a)(1) of the ARP Act at Mercer University is 0 as of July 17, 2021.
  7. As of July 17, 2021, the information about the ARP HEERF III Act grants to students is in process of being developed.
  8. As of July 17, 2021, the information about the ARP HEERF III Act grants to students is in the process of being developed.

UPDATE: July 10, 2021

  1. Mercer University began distributing HEERF II (CRRSA Emergency Grants) on April 13, 2021, and the HEERF II grants were completely disbursed as of June 25, 2021. This quarterly posting is the final report that covers all HEERF II expenditures for “Student Aid Portion (CFDA 84.425E)”

Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting for HEERF I, II, and III “Institutional Portion”

UPDATE: June 30, 2021

  1. On December 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) (P.L. 116-260). This new law gave the U.S. Department of Education (Department) approximately $22.7 billion to distribute to institutions of higher education in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus through the HEERF. This law has some similarities—as well as important differences—from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116–136) that was enacted on March 27, 2020.
  2. Since Mercer University officials signed and returned the Funding Certification and Agreement to the U.S. Department of Education on April 13, 2020 for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), no additional action was required from the University to receive the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental and Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).
  3. Mercer University received a total of $8,211,054 in CRRSA Act funding. $2,632,963 was allocated for the student portion and $5,578,091 was allocated for the institutional portion.
  4. Based on the Department of Education’s guidance Mercer identified students that met the exceptional need eligibility requirements by using Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid with Pell recipients receiving the highest distribution. Students were not required to be Title IV eligible but the new guidance fell short of including DACA and International students.
  5. Amounts for the CRRSA Act were determined for both the undergraduate and graduate populations based on exceptional need as determined by a student’s EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Three EFC ranges were identified for both undergraduate and graduate students. Any remaining funds were distributed based on appeals.
  6. On April 12, 2021, eligible students received an email advising them they would receive a HEERF II Financial Aid Emergency Grant based on their EFC and we would begin distributing the grants on April 13, 2021.
  7. On April 12, 2021, ineligible students received an email stating they did not meet the exceptional need criteria for one of the following reasons:
    1. No FAFSA on file
    2. EFC exceeded the exceptional need cut-off
    3. Failed to complete verification or have citizen status was unresolved
  8. The ineligible email notified students who had not completed a FAFSA that they could appeal for additional funding based on COVID 19 expenses. All appeals had to be received by April 23, 2021
  9. Mercer began distributing CRRSA funds on April 13, 2021 and the CRRSA funds were completely disbursed June 25,2021.
  10. Mercer identified 4987 students that met the exceptional need requirement and distributed Emergency Financial Aid Grant under the CRRSA Act to 4987 students.
  11. The total dollar amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) (P.L. 116-260) was $2,632,963
  12. HEERF II institutional funding as of March 31, 2021 expensed $50,964.08 for salary and fringe related to time and effort for an Information Technology position to management COVID software for reporting and notification of testing and vaccination.

Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting for HEERF I, II, and III “Institutional Portion”

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.

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:  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: 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: May 13, 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.  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.