Southwest awards $3.2M in emergency relief grants to students through CARES Act

Eligible Southwest Tennessee Community College students received $3,284,304 in federal emergency assistance under the provisions of the U.S. Department of Education CARES Act.

Diana Fedinec, Director Public Relations and Media
901-333-4247/2939
dfedinec@southwest.tn.edu

June 6, 2020 - Southwest Tennessee Community College distributed $3,284,304 in federal emergency assistance grants to eligible students June 4, 2020. The payments are provided under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) passed by Congress March 27, 2020.

The student relief package is designed to help students cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, including such cost-of-attendance eligible expenses as course materials, technology, health care and child care. The grant funding does not affect students’ regular financial aid. 

“This CARES Act allocation represents critical relief for our students who were severely impacted by the pandemic,” Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall said. “So many of our students have overcome significant challenges to come to college and COVID-19 represents a serious threat to their ability to persist to completion. This support is vital for them to continue on in their studies to earn a life changing credential.”

Southwest distributed 90 percent of its funding to full-time or part-time students who were enrolled on or after March 13, 2020, for the spring 2020 semester and meet certain citizenship status requirements.  Students who were enrolled solely in online classes were not eligible.  Transient students, dual-enrollment students and students enrolled in special-industry training programs do not qualify for the CARES Act emergency grant aid. The remaining 10 percent of the CARES Act funding will be disbursed as special payments to eligible students who apply for additional emergency assistance.

Eligible students received their payments electronically through direct deposit into a checking account if they were enrolled in the College’s eRefund system or via checks in the mail if they were not.  Payments to individual students varied, in part because the federal formula allocating funding to each college includes a factor weighted toward the percentage of its students receiving Pell Grants. Southwest prioritized students with the greatest needs, while also seeking to ensure that these funds were distributed as widely as possible.

The emergency funding for students is a portion of the total amount of $7.2M in HEERF funds allocated to Southwest from U.S. Department of Education. Of this amount, $3,649,218 is for institutional use.  Per Department of Education guidelines, this “institutional portion” can be used for additional emergency grants to students or for institutional expenses arising from coronavirus-driven changes to the delivery of instruction.

Students who have questions or concerns about CARES Act emergency relief grants may email Southwest at CARES@southwest.tn.edu. Details about Southwest’s COVID-19 response are online at www.southwest.tn.edu/coronavirus.