NOTE: On Jan. 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education approved additional funding for institutions of higher education through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the university receives information regarding the awarding of these federal funds, detailed instructions will be sent to eligible students. Thank you for your patience.
CARES Act FAQ
What is the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?
Federal funding that has been entrusted to higher education institutions in order to provide emergency grant funds to eligible students who experienced a financial hardship caused by the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.
Who is eligible to receive emergency funds?
Per the U.S. Department of Education, eligible students are those who filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or who are eligible to file a FAFSA.
Who is not eligible to receive CARES Act emergency funds?
Per the U.S. Department of Education, international, dual credit, non-U.S. citizen students and students enrolled exclusively in online courses prior to March 13, 2020, are not eligible for CARES Act funding.
How does a student apply for these emergency funds?
Students must complete an online application to be considered for CARES Act funding. Access to the application is available to eligible students on their mySFA account, under the Important Notifications tab. The U.S. Department of Education guidelines require documentation indicating that a student has experienced a financial hardship caused by the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. A CARES Act introduction letter is being sent to students' SFA email with information on eligibility and directions on how to apply.
How much will eligible students receive?
The amount provided to each student will vary depending on his or her need and funding availability.
CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief 30-day Fund Report
Stephen F. Austin State University has been allocated $10.4 million in higher education emergency relief funds through the CARES Act. SFA signed and returned the Certification and Agreement form. The university intends to use $5.2 million or 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
Total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants for SFA Students: $5,262,539
Emergency Financial Aid Grants Distributed to Students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of Oct. 10, 2020: $5,262,539
Estimated number of SFA students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965; thus making them eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants through the CARES Act: 5,568
Number of SFA students who received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of Oct. 10, 2020: 4,713
- Established three awarding phases based on spring 2020, summer 2020, and fall 2020 terms.
- Phase I identified spring 2020 enrolled students that submitted a FAFSA.
- Identified students which indicated a financial hardship caused by the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 on a submitted SFA Emergency Financial Aid Grant application.
- Students identified as international, non-U.S. citizens, dual credit, enrolled exclusively in an online program prior to March 13, 2020, or not having a good Satisfactory Academic Progress status were excluded based on the U.S. Department of Education guidelines.
- Phase II will serve eligible students enrolled in summer 2020; Phase III will serve eligible students enrolled in fall 2020.
Method used to determine how much an eligible student would receive involved the following:
- Created an SFA Emergency Financial Aid Grant application with financial need categories, such as housing/rent, transportation, food, technology, childcare.
- Internal values were assigned to each financial need category.
- Two award levels were determined based on the financial need category values.
- Grant fund levels for Phase I were set at $500 and $300.
- Grant fund levels for Phase II and III may adjust based on availability of funds and number of eligible students.
Instructions, directions and information provided to SFA students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants included:
- Established a Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information web page.
- Developed a FAQ resource for web page.
- Sent an email to all currently enrolled students introducing them to the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Grant and providing instructions on how to apply.
- Established tailored messages within the students’ mySFA portal regarding eligibility and application information.
- Created an application for the emergency financial aid grants, which could be accessed via a student’s mySFA account under the Important Information tab.
- Provided an acknowledgment response upon submission of the application.
- Emailed communication to students’ SFA email regarding Emergency Financial Aid Grant.
- Provided direction for any questions to be directed to the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office; this included students with extenuating circumstances beyond the scope of the emergency financial aid grants.