In late March, federal legislation was passed to provide economic relief to individuals and organizations dealing with the ramifications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This legislation — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act — established a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) for colleges and universities in the United States.
On April 20, 2020, BSU signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement to receive $1,406,649 in HEERF funding for the purpose of providing emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus.
The CARES Act directed that this $1,406,649 of HEERF money must go toward emergency student financial assistance for expenses related to shifting from in-person to remote instruction. Eligibility requirements for this emergency assistance include enrollment in courses that were:
- In-person, face-to-face instruction (i.e.,”ground-based” in federal terminology)
- Credit-earning (not an audited course)
- Continued through or started on or after March 9, 2020, which was the Monday of Bemidji State University’s spring break
To be eligible, students also cannot have dropped, withdrawn, or had a Last Day of Attendance before March 6.
Various restrictions on the use of these funds were established in the CARES Act and through regulatory direction from the federal Department of Education. These restrictions mean that several categories of students cannot receive emergency financial assistance, including:
- Current high school students
- Seniors citizens who already receive a tuition discount
- DACA/DREAM Act Students
- Students (who are employees and not dependents) who have their tuition paid via employee waiver through Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
- Incarcerated students
- International students attending BSU or NTC on a student visa
BSU paid awards emergency student financial assistance payments to eligible students on May 6 & 7 based on the criteria above. All students meeting the above criteria received a $340 CARES Base Award to help defray the cost of moving to remote instruction (e.g. Internet and modem costs). All eligible students who received a Federal Pell Grant received an additional CARES Supplemental Award of $285.
If you are attending more than one Minnesota State college or university, you can only receive a CARES Base Award from one school. If you believe you meet the criteria above for a Base Award, but do not see it on your student account, email Tammy Rogers at email@example.com or call at (218) 755-2064 to review your account.
In order to speed up your distribution of funds, we encourage you to sign up for Direct Deposit and make sure your correct address is updated in your e-Services account. Please also confirm that your telephone number is correct.
The estimate of students eligible to receive the HEERF funding from BSU was 2,745. As of December 22, 2020, 2,754 students have received a total of $1,319,588 in HEERF dollars. A committee of students, faculty, staff and administrators decided in April 2020 to share $86,721 of BSU funds with Northwest Technical College to provide the same base and supplemental grant award amount to all eligible students regardless of which institution they attend.
Additional awards will be made through the special circumstances grant application process. Student emergency grants may be applied for using the BSU/NTC application process. If you need additional financial support, funds are available through the BSU special circumstances grants.
Differing lists of students who were eligible for the emergency funds listed above, received e-mail communications about the funds. Please monitor your official BSU e-mail account for additional communications.