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East Texas Baptist University’s Use of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students

ETBU Certification and Agreement for Use of Funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA)

1.    The University received notice of funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) for Student Assistance Emergency Grants in Grant Award Notification (GAN) #P425E201208-20A on 1/19/2021 from Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary Christopher J. McCaghren. As instructed in that GAN, because the University had already signed a Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the CARES Act, funding for emergency financial aid grants to students under CRRSAA was automatic as long as the University drew down a portion of those funds within 90 days, which it did. 

2.    The total amount of funds that ETBU received from CRRSAA to make emergency financial aid grants to students is $796,350

3.    The total amount of emergency financial aid grants to students that ETBU distributed from CRRSAA to date is $796,350.

4.    The estimated total number of students at ETBU who are eligible to participate in programs under CRRSAA and are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants is approximately 754.

5.    The total number of students who have received an emergency financial aid grant from ETBU under CRRSAA to date is 482.

6.    Methodology for awarding emergency financial aid grants to students.  University staff, under the leadership of President Dr. Blair Blackburn, formed a COVID Relief Task Force that consisted of the Vice Presidents and several other key staff members. This task force immediately began working to determine what requirements existed for the use of these funds. The Task Force noted that these funds, unlike HEERF I funds, could be used for students who did not file a FAFSA, and that recipients were required to demonstrate “exceptional need.” Given this difference, the Task Force began discussing a way to determine exceptional need for students where we might not have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for the student because they did not complete the FAFSA. Over a 2 week period, the Task Force developed a Questionnaire/Survey, which was sent to 1,257 eligible ETBU spring semester students on April 7, 2021. These students were given a reasonable time to complete the survey, and results from the surveys submitted were tabulated immediately in Excel. A Scoring Rubric was developed by the Task Force, and was applied to all surveys received. 440 students completed the original survey. These students were awarded grant amounts of $750, $1500, or $2500, depending on their “exceptional need” scoring from the rubric. Based on this scoring, 88 students were awarded $750, 347 students were awarded $1,500, and 5 students were awarded $2,500, for a total award amount in the first round of grants of $599,000.  Of the 440 students who completed the survey, 80 provided additional detailed information about their exceptional need by answering question 13 on the survey. The other 360 students did not give detail in this question. The 80 students’ responses were carefully reviewed by the COVID Relief Task Force, and these students were awarded an additional emergency student grant ranging between $500 and $4,700, depending on the severity of their situation that demonstrated exceptional need. Another 33 students indicated that they did not receive the email containing the link to the survey, so they were asked to provide specific, written information about their specific situations. These responses were reviewed by the COVID Relief Task Force, and these students were awarded grant amounts ranging between $800 and $5,500, depending on their circumstances and demonstration of exceptional need. The additional grants awarded to these 113 students totaled $197,350, for a total distribution of Student Emergency Grants of $796,350. Per HEERF II guidelines, $778,358 was required to be used to provide emergency grants to students, so the University used $17,992 of its HEERF II institutional funds to provide the additional amount to students. 

Email to students sent April 7

Tigers, 

As the Coronavirus and its impact continue to evolve and develop, East Texas Baptist University remains focused on the health and safety of the ETBU Family. We know that the stress and anxiety of this pandemic are far-reaching, and we have yet to see the full impact that it will have on our economy. While the long-term ramifications are still unknown, we want to be able to provide as much help and assistance to you as possible during this time.   

We know that some of you may have experienced financial hardships of which the University is unaware. Please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey to help assess the level at which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the financial needs of you and your family. This survey will be utilized to determine eligibility for federal Coronavirus relief packages that will soon be available to students that demonstrate and can document exceptional financial need according to regulations from the United States government.

As part of the process to demonstrate the exceptional financial need required to be eligible for these funds, you must complete this survey that will aid in assessing your level of financial need. So please, whether you feel that you have had financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19 or not, please fill out the survey by Monday, April 12. We want to help you and your family face the economic challenges resulting from the pandemic as best we can.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6 

Blessings,

ETBU COVID Relief Task Force 

COVID-19 | ETBU CARES Act Certification and Agreement Information

  1. ETBU signed and returned the Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on April 13, 2020, that assures that the University has used no less than fifty percent (50%) of the funds received under 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 coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).
  2. The total amount of funds that ETBU has received from the CARES Act to make emergency financial aid grants to students is $1,030,260.
  3. The total amount of emergency financial aid grants that ETBU has distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to date is $1,030,260.
  4. The estimated total number of students at ETBU who are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants is 1,147.
  5. The total number of students who have received an emergency financial aid grant from ETBU under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to date is 884.
  6. Methodology for awarding emergency financial aid grants to students.  In mid-March, 2020, as ETBU leadership returned from spring break and were confronted with the direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it began to spread throughout the United States, we considered many options to attempt to offer help to our students for their expenses related to the pandemic. During that time, we heard that Congress was considering a stimulus package for colleges and universities to help students by providing emergency funds. Although the details of the CARES Act grants were only in the initial planning stages in Congress and details were very sketchy, and we were not obligated to do so under our student housing and board contracts, we explored several options and calculations to fairly and consistently provide assistance to our students.  Many of our costs related to meals and housing for students are incurred at the beginning of the semester, independent of enrollment, so our leadership team began to wrestle with ideas regarding how to fairly provide the most assistance to as many students as possible.  With the limited funds that ETBU would be receiving from the CARES Act, we worked to provide these funds to the most students in the fairest manner possible. We decided to use a calculation that considered a student’s housing, meal plan, and meal plan flex dollars to come up with an equitable amount for each student’s grant, which came to an amount between $400 and $1600 for each student. Knowing that some students and their families may need the funds to address emergency financial concerns, we decided to give the students the option of how to receive the funds, either receiving the full amount directly or by applying the grant to their current account balance (if they had one). Colleges and universities across the nation each made different decisions about tuition, room, and board refunds for the spring semester, some refunding amounts for those items, and others deciding not to. Each college’s financial structure is different, as we all have different food service vendors, housing options, and cost structures. So, each college made its own decision about offering refunds, credits, or other monetary benefits, or not doing so. And, as allowed by the CARES Act, each college and university made its own decision about the calculation and process used to distribute the emergency stimulus relief grants once they were approved by Congress in the CARES Act. Many schools used an application process, which required students to apply for the funds, and others provided funds to only those students with the most need as defined by federal financial aid regulations. ETBU, however, decided to provide the grant to all resident students, and we used the calculation method described above to allocate these limited funds. We also committed over $300,000 of our own funds to students to help meet these needs, above that which was provided by the CARES Act for stimulus grants to students. Given our limited resources and the financial stress the pandemic has placed on the University, these initiatives represent the best allocation of limited funds to the most students possible.
  7. The following emails were sent to students in order to communicate the receiving of their emergency financial aid grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act:
For students who had a zero or credit balance (Email text below):

Dear << Student >>,
 
We pray you are well and completing the semester successfully while taking this “downtime” to grow closer to the Lord. We know this has been a financially difficult time for many. In response to these financial hardships, ETBU applied for funds from the federal government in order to provide emergency stimulus relief grants to our Tiger students to help cover some of the expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to Coronavirus. Under new guidance released from the federal government, you are eligible for an emergency stimulus relief grant in the amount of << REFUND >>, which includes the credits previously communicated to you.

Remember that these grants are being provided to ETBU students, whom the University has determined to have need in order to help alleviate some of the financial burdens of pursuing your degree during such an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. Even though you currently have a zero or credit balance, we want to help you and your family because of the economic challenges resulting from the pandemic. We are issuing the emergency stimulus relief grant to you using the refund method (direct deposit or check) that you previously selected. If you do not need these funds to cover current emergency needs, we encourage you to save them for your future education. Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 9:6 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” You are sowing into your future through your Christ-centered education at ETBU, and your perseverance will surely be rewarded as you navigate the difficulties of the COVID-19 health crisis.

You may want to apply these funds, or a portion thereof, to the Fall 2020 semester to help with those future expenses. Click here to make that payment, and specify “Fall 2020 semester” in the description field. Or, you may want to place these funds in a secure savings account to use for living expenses in the fall. Whatever you decide, we trust that the Lord is keeping you and your family healthy and safe during this time.

If you have any questions about the grant or applying it to a future semester, please contact the Business Office at businessoffice@etbu.edu, or 903.923.2055.
 

B. For students who had a positive balance, we gave the option to receive the entire grant, or have the grant applied to their existing balance (see email text below):

Dear << Student >>,
 
We pray you are well and completing the semester successfully while taking this “downtime” to grow closer to the Lord.  We know this has been a financially difficult time for many. In response to these financial hardships, ETBU applied for funds from the federal government in order to provide emergency stimulus relief grants to our Tiger students to help cover some of the expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to Coronavirus. Under new guidance released from the federal government, you are eligible for an emergency stimulus relief grant in the amount of $<< REFUND >>, which includes the credits previously communicated to you.
 
We noticed that you still have a remaining balance of $<< CURRENT_BALANCE >> for the Spring 2020 semester as of April 27, 2020, and would like to extend two options to you for utilizing this grant:
 

  1. ETBU can immediately apply these funds to your remaining balance, which will leave a remaining balance of $<< REM_BALANCE >> once applied; or,
  2. ETBU can issue the grant directly to you using the refund method (direct deposit or check) that you have previously selected. This process may take up to 7 business days to process, and you will still owe the University your current balance of $<< CURRENT_BALANCE >>

 
Please note: all May 1 payment plan payments will be processed as scheduled, so please take this payment into account in your planning. (If you make a May 1 payment and it creates a credit balance on your account, that credit balance will be refunded to you as soon as possible.)
 
Students, we encourage you to carefully consider the best way to utilize these funds that are being provided to you. Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 9:6 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” You are sowing into your future through your Christ-centered education at ETBU, and your perseverance will surely be rewarded as you navigate the difficulties of the COVID-19 health crisis. Remember that these grants are being provided to ETBU students, whom the University has determined to have need in order to help alleviate some of the financial burdens of pursuing your degree during such an unprecedented time in our nation’s history.
 
Within the next two (2) days, please complete 
this form to choose option 1 or 2 above in order to take advantage of this emergency relief grant. If you fail to respond within that time period, it may delay the distribution of your grant funds.

If you have any questions about the grant or applying it to a future semester, please contact the Business Office at businessoffice@etbu.edu, or 903.923.2055.

Name/Title Division Phone
Lee S. Ferguson
Vice President for
Financial Affairs
Financial Affairs 903.923.2048 Send Message View Bio