CARES, CRRSAA, ARPA Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Grants

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act - The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or, CARES Act, was passed by Congress on March 27th, 2020. This bill allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that money, approximately $14 billion was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, or HEERF.

OCC’s allocation of funding through the CARES Act was $7.4 million. Half of that - $3.7 million - was designated as emergency grants directly to students.

Using the CARES Act funding, Oakland Community College made emergency financial assistance available to students who were financially affected by the transition to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An application for CARES Act grants was required and in order to apply for these funds, OCC students had to be Title IV eligible and have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid on file with OCC.

OCC awarded grants from $750 to $1500 per eligible student based on qualified credits upon completion of the application to attest they incurred expenses due to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus for the winter 2020, summer 2020 and fall 2020 semesters until funding was depleted.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), also known as HEERF II - The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) is authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. On January 14, the U.S. Department of Education announced that an additional $21.2 billion was available to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Higher Education institutions can use their awards for financial aid grants to students, student support activities, and to cover a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll.

Oakland Community College has made an additional $3.7 million in emergency financial assistance via the HEERF II available to students who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter 2021 and summer 2021 semesters. These grants focused students with exceptional need with block grants of $1250 and $625 depending on full or part-time enrollment status and also awarded block grants of $800 and $400 to other Title IV students. In addition to the funding for student awards, OCC has $12.6 million of funds it received through HEERF II for institutional costs incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

American Rescue Plan (HERFF III) - The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found at the Department of Education’s webpage https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/arp.html

Oakland Community College’s share of the ARPA funding is $14 million for student grants and $14 million for institutional expenditures. The performance period for HEERF III ends May 2022 and with the decline in coronavirus cases, we are not anticipating additional emergency funding after HEERF III. Student awards, totaling $14 million will be made during Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 terms. The college will prioritize student awards based on exceptional need, focusing first on full time and part time Financial Aid students.; A block of funds will also be available for non-financial aid students, including international students, non-credit students and high school dual enrolled students. As required by the Department of Education, OCC will award the funds directly to students to assist with costs due to the pandemic unless directed otherwise by the student.