Must a Student Be Title IV-Eligible To Receive a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grant?
This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A has been updated to reflect the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) May 21, 2020 statement that it would not enforce the Title IV eligibility guidance in its April 21, 2020 Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under Section 18004 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act because it lacks “the force and effect of law” and ED “will not initiate any enforcement action based solely on these statements.”
The May 21 statement does not appear to extend eligibility to undocumented students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, and international students because, according to ED, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (1996 welfare reform law) prohibits these students from receiving federal public benefits, such as grants.
According to the April 21st Frequently Asked Questions:
“Only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants. If a student has filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then the student has demonstrated eligibility to participate in programs under Section 484 the HEA. Students who have not filed a FAFSA but who are eligible to file a FAFSA also may receive emergency financial aid grants. The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include but are not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting.”
Under the May 21st statement, this Title IV eligibility provision still applies, but ED will not enforce it. Going forward, the school will need to develop or change its policy with this in mind and consult with its legal counsel to assess the risk of any policy it adopts. Also, ED has indicated there will be further guidance.
To be a Title IV-eligible student under Section 484 of the HEA, the student must:
Keep in mind the following considerations:
Beyond the Above Considerations: The school retains discretion over awarding Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) student grants and needs to make its own decisions on how it determined which students did or will receive the grants, as well as how much funding they did or will receive. See AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A, What Are the Reporting Requirements For Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grants To Students?
The Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, requires institutions to comply with "all applicable laws including non-discrimination laws" when determining who will receive the emergency grants, such as the 1996 welfare reform law mentioned above.
If and when ED issues further guidance, we will update this AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A and include it in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Web Center, as well as in Today’s News.
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Publication Date: 4/22/2020