CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Progress Report, June 29, 2020

On March 27, 2020, the federal government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). The CARES Act includes a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”). A portion of HEERF funds must go directly to eligible students in the form of emergency financial aid grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 crisis (“HEERF Student Share Grant Funds”).

The following information is provided by Amherst College (the “College”) as required by the Department of Education (“ED”) in order to comply with the reporting requirements under the CARES Act. This is the College’s first 30-day progress report and presents information as of June 29, 2020. Additional reports will be provided every 45 days.

1. Certification and Agreement

On May 30, 2020, the College signed and returned to ED the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the College intends to use no less than 50 percent of the funds allocated under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide emergency financial aid grants to students.

These grants will be funded in large part by the CARES Act, Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF), with the College providing funds to those who are not deemed eligible under the provisions of the CARES Act. The College will act as a conduit for the federal student funds. We will neither apply for nor accept the funding intended to help colleges and universities with their own expenses.

2. Amounts to be Received

Pursuant to the Certification and Agreement, the College is eligible to receive up to $787,291 in HEERF Student Share Grant Funds. The College received confirmation of the availability of these funds on June 4, 2020, and the College drew down the available funds on June 25, 2020.

3. Amounts Distributed to Date

As of the date of this submission, the College has distributed $787,291 in HEERF Student Share Grant Funds.

In addition, the College has distributed $168,477 of its own funds directly to students.

4. Estimated Number of Eligible Students

As of the Spring 2020 academic term, the College estimates that approximately 1,089 students may be eligible for the HEERF Student Share Grant Funds. This represents approximately 57% of the College’s total enrollment of approximately 1,906 students.

5. Number of Students Who Have Received HEERF Student Share Grants

As of the date of this submission, 536 students have received HEERF Student Share Grants.

In addition, the College distributed grants to another 117 students who are not deemed eligible under the provisions of the CARES Act.

6. Method of Determining Which Students Would Receive HEERF Student Share Grants

Block grants were distributed to students to support their needs related to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ranging from $500 to $1500, these grants were provided to students based on demonstrated financial need for the 2019-20 academic year and they were allocated to students whose family contribution is less than $16,000. Additionally, the College established a new Student Emergency Fund for students who experience financial strain and need supplemental resources due to temporary hardship related to COVID-19. Students could ask the fund for financial support, regardless of whether or not they received an emergency relief grant. All students were considered for grants, regardless of their classification based on the federal specifications. Any eligible student who could not be awarded a federal grant, was awarded from Amherst College funds.

7. Instructions, Directions, Guidance Regarding HEERF Student Share Grants

On May 1, 2020, a College update was sent to all students and posted on the College COVID-19 website. 

Eligible students were directly notified by email from the Office of Financial Aid beginning on May 7, 2020, with information and instructions about how to claim their funds. No application was necessary, but students certified that expenses were incurred that met the criteria for receipt of a cash grant and provided a current mailing address for a check to be sent.

On May 13, 2020, the College launched the Student Emergency Fund and notified students in the Daily Mammoth (text below) on May 13th, 14th and 15th. The fund accepted applications through June 22, 2020.

Student Application Open!
The College has established a new Student Emergency Fund for students who experience financial strain and need supplemental resources due to COVID-19 related hardship. Such expenses may include medical, financial stress around housing, food insecurity, and travel. The fund is available regardless of whether or not students received an emergency relief grant. Requests will be considered as received, and until funds are exhausted. Students are encouraged to apply before the end of May.