This webpage shares information about Brown University’s distribution of federal relief funds authorized by Congress as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please read this page to learn more about the following:
- The CARES Act and Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds from the U.S. Department of Education
- Timing of Brown’s Allocation Decisions for Federal Relief Funds
- Brown Awards for Student Aid
- Required Reporting on Brown’s Distribution of Funds: Student Portion
- Required Reporting on Brown’s Use of Funds: Institution Portion
1. About the CARES Act and Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds from the U.S. Department of Education
In March of 2020, Congress set aside approximately $14.25 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law 116-136, for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) program. The U.S. Department of Education awarded these grants to institutions of higher education (IHE) based on a formula stipulated in the legislation.
CARES act funding passed by Congress in March 2020 included student and institutional support; Brown applied for and was awarded student funding. At that time Brown did not apply for institutional support. The Department of Education awarded these funds under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) program.
Additional funding for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II) is authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. In total, the CRRSAA authorizes $81.88 billion in support for education, in addition to the $30.75 billion expeditiously provided last spring through the CARES Act.
CRRSAA provided supplemental aid for students and institutions. Brown received funds in both categories under CRRSAA. The Department of Education awarded CRRSAA funds under the HEERF program as HEERF II. Brown automatically received the student aid funding as a supplement to CARES Act funding/HEERF I, and applied for the institutional portion of these funds. As of March 31, 2021, Brown has received $2,421,116 in funding under the CARES Act, and $7,008,633 in funding under CRRSAA. Of the total funds awarded to Brown under these programs, $4,842,232 must be used for student support.
Congress passed a third relief act in February 2021. These funds have not yet been awarded through the Department of Education, though it is anticipated that these funds will also be distributed through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, possibly as HEERF III. Brown is automatically eligible for these funds and does not need to re-apply. These funds will again be allocated for both student and institution support. It is anticipated that the student support funds will have new options for how they may be spent.
2. Timing of Brown’s Disbursement Decisions for Federal Relief Funds
Based on its allocation of federal relief funding, Brown announced in February 2020 its plans to disburse $5.4 million in student support to eligible undergraduate, graduate and medical students in March (mostly from federal relief funding and partly from Brown funds). Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a change in campus operations in March 2020, the University has made it a priority to support our students and families contending with the unexpected financial consequences of the global health emergency.
Brown is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their financial circumstances, have the resources and support they need to access the wide range of educational opportunities we offer at Brown. Brown remains steadfast in our commitment to supporting students with the greatest need.
Brown applied for and was awarded $2.4 million in student support funding in April 2020, and CRRSAA provided a notice of an additional $2.4 million of student support 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 the University’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 its 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. As Brown neared the last quarter of Fiscal Year 2021 with clearer budget projections and with the expectation that the institution could avoid layoffs for the foreseeable future, the University was able to move forward confidently in disbursing the aid funds.
It’s important to note that, given the need to proceed cautiously regarding the federal funding, and recognizing the needs of our students, the University had provided approximately $7.3 million in COVID-related direct support to students — as of February 2021 — from its own budget from 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.
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has remained focused on easing the challenges arising from this global crisis for all members of our community.
3. Brown Awards for Student Aid
During the week of March 8, 2021, Brown began the process of distributing $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 began distributing the funds are ineligible to receive these federal funds under government rules. Therefore, Brown supplemented 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 were treated equitably.
98% of the total $5.4 million was distributed to approximately 3,500 students at Brown by the end of March, 2021. Federal relief programs require that students receiving these funds use them to cover specific components of the cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus. Eligible expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and childcare. The funds were distributed to all undergraduate and medical students receiving Brown need-based scholarships as well as master’s degree students who receive federal loans.
To determine the most equitable model for distributing the total funding to eligible students, we convened a group of students, faculty and staff to develop and consider several options, all within the parameters established by the federal relief programs. We knew it was essential to include students in this process, and the consensus of the group was to base distributions on student financial aid profiles, including parent contribution levels for undergraduate students. This decision aligns with Brown’s overall approach to financial aid in which the University provides the most financial assistance to those with the greatest financial need.
Awards for undergraduates ranged from a maximum of $3,000 for students with a $0 parent contribution (those with the greatest demonstrated need) to a minimum award of $500 — with all award determinations based exclusively on eligible financial need. Awards of $1,000 were 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.
Eligible students received a communication directly from Student Financial Services prior to March 8 with further details. A resource answering frequently asked questions was developed to ensure that the path to accessing the funds was clear. Funds were posted directly to student accounts the week of March 8, processing them as electronic refunds to make it easy for students to access them. Students can spend the funds in the ways most helpful to them, as long as they are used toward eligible expenses.
4. Required Reporting on Brown’s Distribution of Funds: Student Portion
This section includes all required quarterly reports on Brown University spending of funds awarded under 84.425E of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds.
Reporting data prior to March 31, 2021
Reporting prior to March 31, 2021 was posted online and is available in the attached PDF:
This section includes questions and answers required to be posted online by the terms and conditions of the CARES Act funding accepted by Brown University.
1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
Brown University has signed and returned the Certification and Agreement to the Department and both has and intends to use, no less than 50% of the funds received under Section 18004 (a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
2. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution's Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
Brown University has received $4,842,232 from the Department of Education pursuant to the institution's Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students. Brown University has distributed $4,746,500 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of this report.
3. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the initial report and every calendar quarter thereafter).
Brown University has distributed a total amount of $4,746,500 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of this submission.
4. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
The estimated total number of students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under Section 18004 (a)(1) of the CARES Act was 3,880 as of March 31, 2021.
5. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
As of 3/31/2021 Brown University disbursed funds to:
- 2658 undergraduate students
- 477 graduate and medical students
- 57 undergraduate students and 5 graduate and medical students had not completed the process to receive funds as of 3/31/2021
6. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
Eligible students included those who:
- were enrolled at least ½ time in the spring 2021 term.
- completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 20-21 academic year and Brown received an ISIR.
- had a calculated Federal Methodology Estimated Family Contribution (FMEFC) was less than the total cost of attendance.
- as undergraduate or medical students received Brown need-based scholarship.
- as graduate students received a federal student loan in the academic year 2020-21.
- For undergraduates the amounts received were based on the calculated parent contribution and their demonstrated need. Amounts of $3,000 were provided with students with the highest demonstrated needs and amounts varied based on need with a minimum of $750 for students with the lowest demonstrated need.
- Brown’s Resumed Undergraduate Education Program and student-veterans received disbursements of $1,500 each.
- Eligible graduate and medical students received disbursements of $1,500.
7. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
The following instructions, directions, or guidance was provided by Brown University to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants:
- Provost Letter to the Brown Community
- Email of Eligibility for CARES/CRRSAA Recipients
- CARES ACT FAQs on Bursar Website
5. Required Reporting on Brown’s Use of Funds: Institution Portion
This section includes all required quarterly reports on Brown University spending of funds awarded under 84.425F of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds.