In April 2020, The US Department of Education (DOE) announced distribution of emergency financial assistance grants to college students. The funding was made possible through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Warner Pacific University received $389,103 to allocate to students in grant assistance.
Subsequently, in December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 included additional COVID-19 relief through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Warner Pacific received an additional $389,103 to allocate to students in grant assistance.
Additionally, in March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 included additional relief. Warner Pacific received an additional $1,192,340 to allocate to students in grant assistance.
The sole purpose of this federal funding is to provide emergency financial assistance grants to student for their educational expenses and can be used for any part of the cost of attendance or for emergency costs related to the pandemic.
Currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies students at WPU may receive financial aid grants using funds provided through the ARPA and previous programs. Although, at the time of disbursement for CARES and CRRSAA eligibility was restricted. Priority is given to full-time students. Students with exceptional need are prioritized.
International and undocumented students were not eligible for CARES or CRRSA funding under current federal government guidelines at the time of disbursement. However, other campus-based emergency funds were provided to support students with demonstrated need.
WPU established the following principles to guide the distribution of grant assistance:
Student Success-to help alleviate financial distress students are experiencing due to COVID-19.
Equity-all students have experienced some type of impact due to COVID-19, but those impacts have been uneven, with greater negative impacts on students from historically underserved communities. Students receive different levels of grant assistance proportional to their demonstrated financial need (informed by the needs analysis based on the FAFSA) as shown on financial aid applications.
Timeliness and Administrative Simplicity-ensure access for the greatest number of deserving students possible to receive emergency assistance as needed with streamlined administrative processes.
In awarding grant assistance to students, Warner Pacific will utilize a three-pronged approach, benchmarked against students’ financial need whenever possible, with students in each group receiving different levels of grant aid proportional to the financial difficulty. These groups include:
- Students with the lowest income status who received maximum levels of state and/or federal financial aid. The students with the most financial need prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic likely remain the most challenged, and we anticipate they have experienced disproportionately greater hardship as a whole.
- Students with some financial need who received some state and/or federal financial aid. A portion of Warner Pacific students received some financial aid but were also paying out-of-pocket for educational expenses prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These students now likely face greater financial difficulty and need more assistance than they normally would.
- Other students. Students with less financial need that may not have received other financial assistance were included in the calculations and evaluated for funding.
For these groups of students, WP developed a weighted formula that takes into consideration financial need and other factors related to individual circumstances. The guidance from the DOE was clear that institutions were to prioritize students with the greatest need and to distribute funding as widely as possible. That being said, not all students received CARES or CRRSAA funding based on their demonstrated financial need or other factors related to their enrollment status.