What is the CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by the United States Congress to provide economic relief from COVID-19. Part of the Act establishes the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which includes money for emergency financial aid grants to be provided directly to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. These funds are meant to help students pay for extraordinary expenses during this time such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare and childcare.
Do I have to apply for the CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds?
No. There is no application process. Students who meet the basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid and the eligibility requirements outlined below will receive funds automatically.
Eligibility Requirements for Summer Term
You are eligible to receive funds if you meet the following requirements:
• Have a completed FAFSA for 2019-20 and/or 2020-21
• Be enrolled as an undergraduate in Summer Quarter 2020 (Quarter commencing June 8, 2020)
• Have received federal financial aid for Summer Quarter 2020
• Be in good standing: Making Satisfactory Academic Progress during Summer 2020; No unauthorized delinquent balance with the business office
• Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen
About the Fund and Determination of Distribution Amount
Seattle Film Institute (SFI) applied for CARES Act funds to provide emergency financial aid grants to students. The Department of Education determined the amount of funds that each college was eligible to receive by using a formula based on student enrollment. In addition, each college had to adhere to the Higher Education Act of 1965, Section 484. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – Student Aid, provided Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004 (a)(1) of the CARES Act.
SFI has received an allocation of $101,834.00 in CARES Act funds. SFI, as determined by the Department of Education will use half the funds ($50,917.00) for emergency assistance for students, the remaining amount will be spent in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Department of Education. Distribution of the emergency funds to the 26 students that meet eligibility requirements results in an award of $1,985.34 per student. As of 9/30/20, Seattle Film Institute has distributed $47,000.32 to students and $3,916.68 is pending or unclaimed. Seattle Film Institute has applied its institutional portion of $50,917.00 to expenses related to operating additional class sections to enable social distancing, such as those for hiring more instructors and increasing campus hours of operations and to campus safety and operations. The quarterly report details these expenses and is the final institutional report as Seattle Film Institute has expended its allotted institutional funding.
When will SFI distribute the CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds?
SFI will distribute emergency relief grants for summer quarter the week starting the week of July 20, 2020. Eligible students will receive an email to their SFI email account notifying them about their emergency grant award.
If I receive a grant and have an outstanding balance, will the funds be applied to it?
No. These funds will be distributed directly to you and will not be withheld to be applied towards any outstanding balance. Funds are only released to registered students in good standing. If you have a delinquent balance after week 2, you should arrange to pay SFI separately or make arrangements to remove your account from an unauthorized delinquent status. Contact Susan McElory in the business office at 206-568-4387 or [email protected].
Do I need to report the CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds on my tax return?
No. These one-time emergency aid grants are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information, visit the IRS website.
What if I have more questions about the CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds?
If you have any additional questions about the CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds or your specific award, please contact Ted Haase, Director of Financial Aid (206-568-4387; [email protected]) for assistance.