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Per the Department of Education’s guidance, students are eligible for CARES Act funds if they meet Federal Title IV requirements such as, but not limited to:
- enrollment in a degree-seeking program
- eligible as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen* with a valid Social Security number
- registration with Selective Service (if the student is male)
- maintain satisfactory academic progress in their course of study, and
- do not owe a refund on grants previously received or in default on any federal student loans
Additionally, students must have been enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid class prior to March 13, 2020. If you already filed a FAFSA and received Title IV aid, you may be eligible for CARES Act funds.
* Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are (1) a permanent U.S. resident with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551); (2) a conditional permanent resident with a Conditional Green Card (I-551C); (3) the holder of an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Parolee” (I-94 confirms that you were paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), T-Visa holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.) or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant;” or (4) the holder of a valid certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services showing a designation of “Victim of human trafficking”.
Definition of a Qualifying Situation
Russell Sage College’s CARES Act funds for students will be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. This includes, but is not limited to, eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care expenses.
Q&A: CARES Act Student Relief Program
How can I access the CARES Act application?
In order to access the CARES Act application, you must be signed in to your Sage email account. If you do not know your email address or you forgot your password, call the Help desk at 518-244-4777 and they will be able to assist you.
Do I need to complete an application to be considered for CARES Act funds?
No, you are not required to complete Sage’s online CARES Act Student Emergency Grant Application, but you must have a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file at Sage. Initially we required an application but in evaluating this process we found that it wasn’t the best way to make sure that our students with the highest need received the funds.
Why do I need to complete the FAFSA to be considered for CARES Act funds?
Per the Department of Education’s guidance, only students who are eligible to participate in Federal Title IV programs may receive CARES Act funds. Therefore, if you already filed a FAFSA and are receiving Title IV aid, then you are eligible to apply for CARES Act funds.
What are my options if I’m not eligible for Title IV aid through the FAFSA?
If you are not eligible for Title IV aid as determined by completing a FAFSA, then you will not be considered for CARES Act funds.
Is there a deadline to apply for CARES Act funds?
Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis until all funds are spent, in the order applications are received. The Committee’s goal is to distribute these funds as widely as possible to assist many students. Therefore, award amounts may be limited.
What expenses can I receive grant funds towards?
You can request grant funds to help towards expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. This includes, but is not limited to, eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance as determined by the Financial Aid Office, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.
- Food Expenses may include unexpected grocery expenses for a resident student who was depending on their meal plan to eat for the semester, or increased grocery expenses for a student supporting dependent children now home due to their school or child care closure.
- Course Materials may include, but are not limited to, general use supplies such as writing utensils and notebooks; and course-specific supplies such as calculators, lab equipment, rental of musical equipment, paint brushes, and canvases unexpectedly required to be purchased due to campus disruption of regular operations.
- Technology Expenses may include computer equipment, internet access expenses, printer supplies, etc. required for student success when transitioning to an online format from the traditional in-person class structure.
- Healthcare Expenses may include the cost of unanticipated or unusual medical expenses due to coronavirus or its effects.
- Child Care/Dependent Care Expenses may include the cost of unanticipated or unusual care expenses for a student’s child or other dependents in the independent (based on FAFSA) student’s household.
- Transportation Expenses may include the cost of unanticipated or unusual travel expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. This may include additional trips to the college to retrieve personal belongings.
- Housing Expenses may include unanticipated expenses in securing housing and/or rent for residential students after the closure of campus housing in March. This may also include difficulty in making rent or mortgage payments due to income loss from this economic disruption.
What if I have “other” emergency expenses?
The online application provides an “other” category that you can identify. It is very important that you provide a detailed explanation of what these “other” expenses are and provide receipts for consideration.
Do I need to submit receipts?
The Committee has the right to request receipts on a case-by-case basis for other expense categories if they so choose.
Who reviews the CARES Act application?
A Committee has been established and will consider applications on an ongoing basis until all funds are spent, in the order applications are received.
How much emergency grant aid will I receive?
The Committee will determine the amount based on the results of your online application. Emergency grant amounts will be awarded to students with qualifying costs based on need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is important that you provide a detailed account of how you have been affected financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Missing or incomplete explanations may affect your ability to receive grant funds.
Are there minimum or maximum amounts a student can receive?
The Committee has the authority to award differing amounts to students on a case-by-case basis, with no minimum or maximum required. For consistency, the Committee has standard allowable expenses assigned for each expense category shown on the application. It is important that applicants provide detailed explanations on the application so additional consideration can be given for students who have incurred expenses above and beyond our standard allowable expenses. The college’s goal is to distribute these funds as widely as possible to assist many students.
Do I need to pay back these funds?
No, these funds are considered to be grant awards and do not need to be repaid to the college or federal government.
Do I need to keep track of how I use the emergency grant aid I receive?
No, students who receive CARES Act funds are not required to record or track how it is spent.
How long will it take for me to receive emergency grant funds?
Processing and sending the payment to the student may take up to fourteen (14) business days after approval by the Committee. The Committee will review applications on an ongoing basis and make decisions as quickly as possible.
How will I be notified of the Committee’s decision?
The Committee will notify applicants of their decision via the student’s Sage email account.
How will the funds be distributed?
CARES Act funds will be provided directly to the student through the Refund method on file in the Student Account Payment Center. Processing and sending the payment to the student may take up to fourteen (14) business days after approval by the Committee. For questions concerning your refunding preference or when you will receive your payment after you are approved, please contact the Student Accounts Office at [email protected].
Can the College apply these funds directly towards my student account?
No, the college cannot apply any CARES Act funds towards an outstanding balance on a student’s account. These cash grants must be disbursed directly to the student.
Can I make a payment to the college towards my outstanding balance using a portion or all of the emergency grant aid I received?
You can make a payment on your outstanding balance at any time. However, please note that it was Congress’s intent that CARES Act emergency cash grants be used by students to cover their emergency personal expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. Please ensure you have what you need to cover these expenses before using any emergency grant funds to make payment on an outstanding Sage student account balance. Sage will not withhold any CARES Act funds to cover balances.
Can I apply for CARES Act Funds If I withdrew from the spring semester?
No, only students that are currently enrolled in spring 2020 courses are eligible to apply for funds.
U.S. Department of Education Reporting Disclosure Requirement
Russell Sage College (The Sage Colleges) acknowledges that it signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. The College has been authorized to receive and has received $856,323 to provide direct emergency checks/direct deposit grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
As of June 2, 2020, the College distributed $861,671 of grants to students, approximately $5,000 more than what was awarded to the College. The College gathered student information to determine eligibility in accordance with Section 18004(a)(1) of the Cares Act prior to distributing Emergency Financial Aid Grants. The College estimated that approximately 1700 students were eligible to receive these funds under Title IV, Section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus, were eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants provided for by the CARES Act. The College collected applications and used information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) to determine the students with the greatest need. This data was used to guide us in prioritizing which students will receive the Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much each student will receive. Our goal was to maximize the distribution and efficiency of the funds provided under the CARES Act.
Emergency grant amounts were awarded to students that met the eligibility requirements and would have had qualifying costs while prioritized based on need. A Committee was established and they reviewed applications on an ongoing basis, until all funds were spent. The Committee determined that greater than 50% of Pell Eligible students didn’t apply for these funds but would have had qualifying cost and were the highest in need. The College determined that the goal was to distribute these funds to the students with the highest need first, based on a calculation of estimation eligible cost with the determination that all students that were financially impacted by the campus closure. The College distributed awards to 1645 eligible students with awards ranging from $100 – $1,500. Amounts were award to students in accordance with the following schedule:
Group One: Pell Eligible Students. Total distribution of $624,350 on May 21, 2020
- Expect Family Contribution (EFC) $0 to $1,400 as calculated through the FAFSA process received $1,500
- Expect Family Contribution (EFC) $1401 to $2,900 as calculated through the FAFSA process received $1,100
- Expect Family Contribution (EFC) $2,901 to $4,400 as calculated through the FAFSA process received $800
- Expect Family Contribution (EFC) $4,401 to $5,576 as calculated through the FAFSA process received $600
Group Two: Eligible Students with a completed application for funds. Total distribution of $137,497 on May 22, 2020
- Expect Family Contribution (EFC) greater than $5,576 as calculated through the FAFSA process
- Awarded to Eligible Undergraduate and Graduate students – awards ranging from $30 to $400
Group Three: Eligible Students with and without a completed application. Total distribution of $99,824 on June 2, 2020
- Expect Family Contribution (EFC) greater than $5,576 as calculated through the FAFSA process
- Awarded to Undergraduate ranging from $10 to $150
- Awarded to Graduate Awarded $150
Information about the distribution of the HEERF grants was sent to all students registered for the spring 2020 semester through our student newsletter and numerous emails from our Student Life Office and various other student services offices coupled with the college’s text information messaging system to encourage all students to apply. These outreach methods directed students to access the electronic application for completion.