What is the student aid funding that Brown is disbursing?
As shared by Brown Provost Richard Locke in
a letter to the University community, Brown will distribute $5.4 million in funding to eligible undergraduate, graduate and medical students. Of that total, $4.8 million comes from the federal government as part of two COVID-19 economic relief programs, namely, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

International students and students on leave at the time that we begin distributing the funds are ineligible to receive these federal funds under government rules. Therefore, Brown will supplement the $4.8 million in federal money with an additional $550,000 in University funding to ensure that all students enrolled in 2020-21 meeting eligibility requirements of demonstrated financial need are treated equitably.

Funds can be used by students to cover specific components of Brown’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus.

What is the CARES Act?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020, to provide economic aid to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act authorized approximately $14 billion to postsecondary education as Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Brown applied for and was awarded $2.4 million in funding through the CARES Act.

What is CRRSAA?
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. CRRSAA authorized an additional $81.88 billion in support for education. Brown applied for and was awarded $2.4 million in funding through the CRRSAA.

Who is eligible to receive COVID-19 relief funding and how will eligible students be notified?
To determine the most equitable model for distributing the total funding to eligible students, Brown convened a group of students, faculty and staff to develop and consider several options, all within the parameters established by the federal relief programs. Undergraduate and medical students receiving Brown need-based scholarships as well as master’s degree students who received federal loans in the 2020-21 academic year are eligible to receive funding.

Because not all students who meet eligibility criteria may receive grants from the federal funds (i.e., CARES/CRRSAA funds), the University will supplement the federal funding with an additional additional $550,000 in "HEERF University" funding to ensure that all students enrolled during the 2020-21 academic year meeting eligibility requirements receive grants. The addition of University funding is especially important in order to include international and DACA / undocumented students who receive financial aid.

All students who are eligible for funding will receive an email notice directly from Student Financial Services. By receiving this emergency grant funded through the CARES Act, CRRSAA and/or University resources, students agree to use these funds for components of cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus,such as tuition, food, housing, health care, or child care.

Why am I not eligible?
Federal law requires that the University prioritize grants to students with exceptional financial need. Accordingly, the University based distributions on student financial aid profiles. This funding model was developed by a group of students, faculty and staff who explored the most equitable models, and aligns with Brown’s overall approach to provide the most financial assistance to those with the greatest financial need.

How much funding will each eligible student receive?
Awards for undergraduates will range from a maximum of $3,000 for students with a $0 parent contribution (those with the greatest demonstrated need) to a minimum award of $750 — with all award determinations based exclusively on eligible financial need. Awards of $1,000 will be granted to eligible medical school and master’s degree students who completed a FAFSA and receive Brown need-based scholarship, a federal loan or both in the current academic year.

How do I apply for relief funding?
Students do not need to apply for funding. Eligibility for the distribution of funds was determined based on the federal relief guidelines, as well as the consensus of a group of students, faculty and staff, as detailed in Provost Locke’s communication. Eligible students will be notified directly by Student Financial Services.

How will the funds be processed?
To expedite the processing of these funds to students, funds will be posted to student accounts and processed as eRefunds to U.S. checking or savings accounts. For students without access to a U.S. bank account, a paper check will be sent to students.

How do I set up eRefund?
Students can set up an eRefund account at Log in and select “Electronic Refunds” from the “My Profile Setup” menu; then select the green “Set up Account” button to begin the process. Please see Brown’s E-Bill & Payment Guide for additional instructions. For additional questions related to eRefund setup, please contact Student Financial Services at [email protected].

When will funds be distributed?
As the University moves to distribute funds, eligible students will receive a communication directly from Student Financial Services prior to March 8 with further details. We expect to begin posting funds directly to student accounts the week of March 8 and processing them as electronic refunds to make it easy for students to access them.

What are the tax implications of accepting these funds?
CARES Act, CRRSAA and University HEERF funds are being distributed to assist students with COVID-19 expense relief. As such, the amounts received by students will be excluded from gross income and excluded from tax reporting on 1099-MISC and 1098-T under IRS Section 139 “Qualified Disaster Relief Payments”. Students will not need to report these payments as income.

How do I decline this funding?
If you meet eligibility requirements and do not wish to receive funding or if you do not agree to use the funding for eligible expenses — namely, components of your cost of attendance or emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus — then you may decline the funding by contacting Student Financial Services at [email protected]

Why did Brown wait until March 2021 to distribute the federal funds?
Brown applied for and was awarded $2.4 million in funding in April 2020, and CRRSAA provided a notice of an additional $2.4 million in December 2020. The University was cautious in finalizing its approach to disbursing the awarded funds due to provisions in the laws specifically related to the employment of University personnel. While Brown’s commitment to avoiding layoffs to the best extent practicable has been in place since the pandemic’s earliest days, the duration of the pandemic and the potential implications of COVID-19 on Brown finances were impossible to predict with absolute certainty. Every higher education institution accepting the federal funds established timelines for distribution aligned with their distinct circumstances. In February 2021, as Brown neared the last quarter of Fiscal Year 2021 with clearer budget projections and with the expectation that it can avoid layoffs for the foreseeable future, the University shared plans about moving forward confidently in disbursing the aid funds.

What additional support did Brown provide to students in the interim?
Given the need to proceed cautiously regarding the federal funding, and recognizing the needs of our students, the University has provided approximately $7.3 million in COVID-related direct support to students from its own budget since the onset of the pandemic. This support came in the form of summer earning waivers, student payroll funds for student employment that could not be completed remotely, travel grants, emergency E-Gap requests, and additional financial aid dollars for families with greater need. Brown also provided nearly $10 million in indirect support for students studying in Providence by committing to single-occupancy rooms and providing PPE to ensure the safety of our student community in Rhode Island, and has already provided $9.5 million dollars of financial aid to support the housing and meals of students studying remotely outside of the Providence area — an investment in remote support that Brown chose to make, distinct from some peers.