In April 2020, The US Department of Education (DOE) announced that more than $6 billion would be distributed to colleges and universities across the country to provide emergency financial assistance grants to college students whose lives and education have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The funding has been 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 our students in grant assistance.

The sole purpose of this federal funding is to provide emergency financial assistance grants to student for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child-care expenses.

Eligibility

Currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies students at WPU who are eligible to receive federal financial aid (whether or not they currently have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, on file) may receive financial aid grants using funds provided through the CARES Act. Priority will be given to full-time students.

Students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs prior to and as of March 13 are not eligible for emergency financial assistance grants, as the impact on their course instruction and campus-based programming has not been affected. As determined by Congress in approving CARES Act funding, emergency financial assistance grants to students are for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, and students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs would not have expenses related to campus operations.

International and undocumented students are not eligible for CARES Act funding under current federal government guidelines. However, other campus-based emergency funds may be accessed to support students with demonstrated need.

Funding Methodology

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).

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 unitize a three-pronged approach, benchmarked against students’ documented financial need whenever possible, with students in each group receiving different levels of grant aid proportional to the financial difficulty. These groups include:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Other students. Any eligible, currently enrolled student can apply for funds to mitigate financial losses due to the impacts of COVID-19.

For the first two 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 will be receiving CARES Act funding based on their demonstrated financial need or other factors related to their enrollment status.

The University has reserved a small portion of the funds for exceptional circumstances. In order to distribute this grant funding, WPU will be accepting applications for consideration. As noted above, the funding provided through the CARES Act Student Emergency Grants is for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses.

How to Apply for Funding Set Aside for Exceptional Circumstances

Application

Students will receive more information about the grants and application process during the week of May 4. Upon completion of the process, funds will be disbursed as quickly as possible to address the needs of as many students as possible, and to support students so they can continue their educational pursuits.

Get Prepared for Coming Enrollment Periods

Although it is not required to receive the CARES Act grant now, we recommend that all students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2020-21.  Students should regularly update their local addresses with the Registrar’s Office. Those who have direct deposit information should verify that it is correct and on file in SFS.

Given the high-profile nature of this funding, students should be aware and vigilant against attempts to gain access to their student account through phishing.

Q and A about Student Emergency Grants:

Who is eligible for CARES Act Student Emergency Grants?

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
    • 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 course. If you already filed a FAFSA and received Title IV aid, you may be eligible for CARES Act funds. If you have not filed a FAFSA, please apply at studentaid.gov/FAFSA in order to be considered.

* 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.

What are my options if I am 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. International and undocumented students are not eligible for CARES Act grants under current federal government guidelines. However, other emergency funds made possible by the generosity of donors and friends of Warner Pacific University may be accessed through an application in order to support students with demonstrated need.

What is the definition of a qualifying situation or expenses?

According to the guidance by the US Department of Education, CARES Act funds are to be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the Conronavirus. This includes, but is not limited to, eligible expenses included in the student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care expenses.

How can I be considered for funding based on my Exceptional Circumstances?

In order to be considered for a CARES Act grant based on your exceptional circumstances, whether or not you received CARES Act grant using the formula based on financial need (noted above), you may apply based on Exceptional Circumstances. The Application is found at: https://www.warnerpacific.edu/cares-act-grant-application

Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis until all funds in this portion reserved for Exceptional Circumstances 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.

Are the funds I receive considered taxable income?

These funds may be considered taxable income for 2020. Higher Education leaders are working with Congress to make a change in the CARES Act to make these funds nontaxable. Please watch for an update on this in the weeks ahead.

What expenses can these grant funds be used for?

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; 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. Documentation for technology expenses must be uploaded in the application to be considered. Examples would be an estimate, receipt, or bill.

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 University to retrieve personal belongings or difficulty in making car payments due to income loss from this economic disruption.

Housing Expenses may include unanticipated expenses in related to housing and/or rent. This may also include difficulty in making rent or mortgage payments due to income loss from this economic disruption.

Do funds received through the CARES Act Student Emergency Grants have to be repaid?

No, these funds are grant awards and do not need to be repaid to the University or the Federal Government.

What if I have “other” emergency expenses?

The online application for those with Exceptional Circumstances 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 have to provide receipts for the Exceptional Circumstances request?

While not required, the Committee reviewing these applications may find it helpful to see documentation of expenses related to your Exceptional Circumstances.

How will be I be notified of the Committee’s decision regarding my application for Exceptional Circumstances consideration?

The Committee will notify applicants of their decision via the student’s Warner Pacific University email account.

How will the CARES Act Student Emergency Grant funds be distributed?

CARES Act funds will be provided directly to the student through direct deposit or check. If you receive a student account refund for your financial aid, the University will use this same information to distribute the CARES Act funds. Processing and sending the payment to the student applying for Exceptional Circumstances grants may take up to seven (7) business days after approval by the Committee. Professional and Graduate Studies (PGS) students should ensure that their address and direct deposit information is up to date on bill.com. Traditional students will have their payments processed using the direct deposit information given to the University at initial enrollment. Students without direct deposit information in the university systems will be issued a check to the current mailing address on file. Ensure your address is correct under User Account on MyWP.

Can the University apply these funds directly toward my student account?

No, the University 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. However, you may choose to use the funds in this manner if you wish.

Can I make a payment to the University towards my outstanding balance using a portion or all of the CAREs Act Emergency Grant assistance 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 WPU student account balance. WPU will not withhold any CARES Act funds to cover balances.

Who should I contact with questions?

Students who require assistance in completing the application, or have other questions, may contact the following offices by telephone and leave a message. Employees are working remotely at this time and will return your call as soon as possible.

If you have questions about the CARES Act grant, the application, financial aid in general or your student account, contact financialaid@warnerpacific.edu, or call 503.517.1091.