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CARES Act & COVID-19 Guidance

CARES Act Report and Disclosure

Last Updated:  05/28/2020

Texas A&M University acknowledges that it signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement Form assuring the University intends to use at least 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.  To meet the reporting requirements outlined in the CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020, Texas A&M University is disclosing the following information.

  1. The total funds Texas A&M will receive for distributions to students from the U.S. Department of Education is $19,908,222.
  2. To date, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is $7,151,446.
  3. The estimated total number of students in the 2019-2020 academic year at Texas A&M University eligible to participate in federal aid programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 40,083.
  4. To date, the total number of students that have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 12,049.
  5. The methods used to determine which and how much students receive in Emergency Financial Aid Grants are as follows –
    • Block grants offered to students enrolled in Summer to assist with rent and food costs
      1. $400 for students that are non-Pell eligible undergraduates, graduates, and professional students
      2. $1,000 for Pell-eligible undergraduate students
      3. The following student groups will be excluded:
        • Those who lived on campus and received a housing refund
        • Those who were not enrolled in Spring 2020
        • Those who were living at home (indicated on the FAFSA)
      4. The following student groups will be prioritized:
        • Undergraduates
        • Newly admitted students through the expedited admissions process
        • Continuing Master’s Degree students
        • Unfunded Doctoral students
    • Students may submit the existing Counselor Review Form to Scholarships & Financial Aid for review of extenuating circumstances.
      1. This form is available by clicking on “My Financial information has changed” on the Emergency Aid webpage
    • Students may submit an Emergency Aid Application by visiting the Emergency Aid webpage and clicking on “Emergency Aid Application”. The application is housed in the Financial Aid Portal, and students will list the amount they are requesting and indicate their need category –
      1. This includes, but is not limited to:
        • Rent/Utilities
        • Food
        • Medical
        • Childcare
        • Technology/Course materials (to include internet cost)
    • Maximum amounts will be $1,500 for Pell-eligible undergraduate students and $900 for non-Pell eligible undergraduate and graduate students and based on the needs presented in the emergency aid application.
  6. The University is informing students of the availability of this funding and steps to apply through postings to institutional websites, e-mail, the Financial Aid Portal, and social media accounts.
CARES Act FAQs

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020, established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). This fund provides for emergency financial aid grants to be made directly to students to assist with disruptions to education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Must have completed a FAFSA for the award year in which you are applying;
  • Must be a US Citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
  • Must have a valid Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number (ARN) if an eligible noncitizen;
  • Must be registered with Selective Service, if applicable (males between the ages of 18 and 25 must register);
  • Must not be in default on a federal student loan;
  • Must not owe money on a federal student grant;
  • Must be a currently enrolled student;
  • Must be enrolled in a degree-seeking or certificate program; 
  • Must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress;
  • Must have unforeseen expenses related to campus disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Must not have been enrolled in a 100% online program on or before March 13, 2020.
  1. Complete the 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    • The information provided on this application is needed to determine whether you meet a portion of the eligibility requirements to receive these funds.
    • You do not have to accept any other federal aid that you may be determined to be eligible to receive.
  2. Submit an Emergency Aid Application
    • Click on the “Emergency Aid Application” link on the Scholarships & Financial Aid Emergency Aid webpage.
    • In the Financial Aid Portal, ensure Academic Year 2019-2020 is selected and click on the Resources tab to apply.
There is a limited amount of other sources of emergency aid available. We will review all applications and assist as much as possible.
If you qualify for an Emergency Aid Grant from funding provided by the CARES Act, the total amount will be refunded directly to you. 
 
If you do not qualify for an Emergency Aid Grant from funding provided by the CARES Act, but qualify for emergency aid from another source, it should be refunded in a similar manner; however, it will be applied to any past due balance first.
We are working diligently to get these funds distributed as soon as possible.  We anticipate a disbursement within 5 to 7 days of an application being approved or grant being offered.
 
Direct deposit is currently the only method for refunds available. If you have not set-up your bank account information, please see How to Set Up Direct Deposit with Heartland ECSI for instructions to sign up. To view your refund:
  • Log-in to the Howdy Portal
  • Select the My Finances tab
  • Choose Pay Bill/Manage Account in the Billing Services Channel
  • View the Current Activity link on the Home page
No. According to IRS FAQs, "Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant is not includible in your gross income."
No. The CARES Act requires that funds be provided directly to students and that no portion be used to pay an outstanding balance.
 
If you are needing assistance with a past due balance, there are other sources of emergency aid, and we will review your eligibility based on need and funding available.
For Summer 2020, an Emergency Aid Grant provided by the CARES Act will not impact a student’s financial aid package since the CARES Act funding is not categorized as financial aid.
Funding provided by the CARES Act is considered a grant, so unlike a loan there is no expectation that it be repaid.  However, one of the criteria for receiving an Emergency Aid Grant provided by the CARES Act is that you are enrolled in the semester for which the grant is offered.  If after receiving an Emergency Aid Grant your enrollment plans change, we may need to re-review your eligibility for these funds.

COVID-19 FAQs

Your financial aid will not change due to courses being taught online. If you maintain your enrollment status, your aid will not be affected.
Withdrawing from all courses may result in a change to your financial aid. Students who withdraw from all classes may only keep the financial aid they have “earned” up to the time of withdrawal. Our office will calculate the amount of aid you have earned and any federal financial aid funds that were disbursed more than the earned amount must be paid back to the federal programs through the University.

As always, dropping a course at this time in the semester or withdrawing altogether can impact your future financial aid eligibility in several ways. As noted in the preceding paragraph, complete withdrawal from all courses may result in the repayment of a portion of your federal aid received.  For more information, please visit the Maintaining Eligibility-Withdrawls page.

Additionally, dropping or withdrawing from a course or courses could affect your course completion percentage, or pace, and the extension in your academic plan that this would result in may cause you to exceed your maximum timeframe for financial aid. Both of these factors, along with GPA, are components of your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), which must be maintained in order to continue qualifying for federal student aid. For more information, visit our Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies page.

To view your current Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) or to calculate how dropping a course or your expected grades this semester might change your SAP status, use the “SAP Calculator” on the Resources tab in your Financial Aid Portal.
For answers to questions related to academic calendar dates, please check registrar.tamu.edu regularly for updates.
At this time, we are awaiting further guidance from federal and state agencies, as well as the result of pending legislation, that will provide us with more detailed information as to what options are available to us for evaluating Satisfactory Academic Progress in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As such, we are currently unable to provide specifics about how choosing the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory option for an individual course will impact scholarships and financial aid.
 
However, students who do not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress or specific scholarship or grant renewal requirements will continue to have the ability to submit an appeal for consideration. Academic issues related to COVID-19 are certainly an acceptable basis for an appeal.
 
For now, we encourage you to make choices regarding Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading, Q-dropping, or withdrawing based on what is best for you academically, and not based on any impact to your financial aid. More information will be provided as soon as we receive additional guidance.
Any class that you select to be graded as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory for the semester will not count towards your cumulative (overall) GPR. You will still earn completed credit hours if you receive a Satisfactory grade for a course, but it will have neither a positive nor negative impact on your GPR. For this semester only, if you receive an Unsatisfactory grade for a course, you will not earn credit hours, and it will have neither a positive nor negative impact on your GPR. An Unsatisfactory course may, however, affect your 30/60/90 Hour Rule progress.

Any class that you select to be graded with a letter grade will, as usual, count towards your cumulative (or overall) GPR and will still count toward your completed credit hours for 30/60/90, if you achieve a passing grade. 

PLEASE NOTE: Transfer credit, dual credit, or AP/IB credit will continue to count toward the 30/60/90 Hour Rule. Unsatisfactory or incomplete grades (F, U, I, X, W, or NG) will not count towards the total earned credit hours requirement.

We encourage you to make choices regarding grading based on what is best for you academically and not based on any impact to your scholarship eligibility.  Know that you will have the opportunity to appeal if your academic progress has been hindered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on how your cumulative GPR is calculated, please visit the Office of the Registrar website

For the official University guidelines for grading this semester, please visit the COVID-19 website.

Scholarship grading requirements may be different if you are the recipient of a scholarship(s) awarded by a University college/department or an external scholarship organization. Please contact them directly with questions or clarification.
 
Federal grant funding such as Pell, TEACH, and SEOG will not be affected with the change in method of instruction.
Please visit JobsforAggies.tamu.edu for COVID-19 related information on student employment and work study.
For College Station:
Phone 979.845.3236
Email financialaid@tamu.edu 
Live chat at financialaid.tamu.edu
For Galveston:
Phone 409.740.4500
Email financialaid@tamug.edu
For Veteran’s Services, e-mail veterans@tamug.edu
Live chat at financialaid.tamu.edu
For the Health Science Center:
Phone –
Zachary Smith: 979.458.5348
Andrea Patterson: 979.458.5367
Email hscfinancialaid@tamu.edu
For Law:
Phone 817.212.4090
Email dakins@tamu.edu
Live chat at financialaid.tamu.edu
For McAllen:
Phone 956.271.1315
Email ycardona91@tamu.edu 
Live chat at financialaid.tamu.edu