CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) provided a variety of funding opportunities to individuals, colleges and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), the CARES Act emergency funding provided to colleges, is designated for students experiencing financial hardships due to disruption of campus operations occurring from the coronavirus pandemic.

Section 18004(e) of the CARES Act requires institutions receiving funds under the Act to publish the following information about its campus plan and appropriations.

  • RCC signed and returned to the Department of Education a CARES Act HEERF Certification and Agreement on April 11, 2020. The certification outlined that RCC intends to use no less than 50% of its HEERF funds to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. These funds will be awarded using the title We Care Funds.
  • The total amount of federal funding received for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to be awarded under the We Care Fund campus plan is $1,813,316.
  • At the first 30-day reporting interval, or May 11, 2020, no We Care Funds had been distributed to students. Every 45 days after May 11, 2020, RCC must report the total number of students receiving We Care Funds and the total awards distributed to students as noted below. On August 31, 2020, the Department of Education revised the reporting dates as indicated in the Federal Reporting Disclosures of the HEERF charts.
  • The CARES Act restricts eligibility for We Care Fund awards to students who are deemed eligible for federal aid. RCC requires that students apply for the 2019/20 or 2020/21 FAFSA so that federal aid eligibility can be determined. The College estimated that approximately 50% of the matriculated Spring 2020 population, or 2,506 students, would be eligible to apply for the CARES Act funding offered through the We Care Fund. RCC encourages all students who have not previously filed a FAFSA to immediately do so in order to be considered for We Care Funds.
  • RCC submitted its We Care Fund campus plan, application and student communications to the State University of New York (SUNY) and received approval to announce the opening of applications to students on June 2, 2020. RCC’s SUNY-approved We Care Fund campus plan which outlines the awarding methodology is available for review.
  • Additional student information is provided on the We Care Fund web page.
  • All required quarterly and cumulative reporting can be found on the Federal Reporting Disclosures of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) webpage.

The Department of Education also requires colleges to post their Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report that itemizes the Institutional portion of the CARES Act HEERF funding.