Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or the Act) directs institutions receiving funds under Section 18004 of the Act to submit a report to the Secretary of Education (the Secretary) describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). On May 6, 2020, the Office of Postsecondary Education at the Department of Education (the Department) released reporting requirements for institutions receiving HEERF dollars.
Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act requires institutions to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received from Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student's cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and child care). On April 9, 2020, the Department published documents related to the Emergency Financial Aid Grants, including a letter from the Secretary, a form Certification and Agreement for signing and returning by institutions to access the funds, and a list of institutional allocations under 18004(a)(1).
The Certification and Agreement directs each institution applying for HEERF funds to comply with Section 18004(e) of the CARES Act and submit an initial report (the 30-day Fund Report) to the Secretary thirty (30) days from the date of the institution's Certification and Agreement to the Department. The Department will issue instructions for providing the required information to the Secretary "in the near future."
In the meantime, the Department has directed each HEERF participating institution to post the information listed below on the institution's primary website. The information must appear in a format and a location that are easily accessible to the public 30 days after the date when the institution receives its allocation under 18004(a)(1) and must be updated every 45 days thereafter:
- An acknowledgment that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or 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 total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution's Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
- The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).
- The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
- The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
- The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
- Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
The Department notes that in preparing the 30-day Fund Report, institutions should comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) (FERPA).
According to the Department, institutions that accurately report the information listed above will meet the initial reporting requirements. For subsequent reports and reporting for other related HEERF programs, the Department will notify participating institutions of the Department's preferred reporting method. The Department states that it may choose to collect additional information from institutions in accordance with the reporting requirement stated at Section 18(e) of the CARES Act and the Certification and Agreement.