Financial Aid Grants – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Higher Education Emergency Relief Grant Fund Policies and Procedures
The U.S. Department of Education has provided emergency financial aid grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act “CARES Act” to students who are in need of financial support for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to Coronavirus, to include: food, housing, healthcare, and childcare. View Details Regarding Grant Here
The Education Secretary has encouraged institutions to prioritize students with the greatest financial need. Divers Institute of Technology believes that the full extent of one’s financial need related to Coronavirus would not be accurately captured if we were to adopt a policy to make that determination based solely on the amount of each student’s estimated family contribution (efc) from their 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), especially since the 2019-2020 FAFSA efc is based on 2017 calendar year income and data. Divers Institute of Technology believes that as our campus operations were forced to completely shut-down as of March 17th, 2020, when the Governor of the State of Washington ordered state-wide school closures for all on ground higher education training operations; and the nature of our training, not being alternately translatable to an online training environment, that each and every one of our active students were severely financially impacted in some way by the school’s complete closure:
- Veterans lost their GI Bill housing allowance payments shortly after the school closure
- Financial aid recipients lost access to their financial aid disbursements and living allowance stipends
- Several others lost jobs and/or had children that could no longer attend school.
In addition, once our campus reopens, every single student that returns to training will find themselves in the position of having to remain in Seattle, one of the highest cost of living cities in the country, for longer than originally budgeted due to having to make up missed time. Every DIT student has the same cost of attendance, where the amount budgeted for indirect school related expenses equals $1,993 per month. The total time of the school closure period (2.06 months), in addition to the total extra amount of time that a student will need to remain in Seattle to complete their program (anywhere from two weeks to 1.5 months) , depending on the student’s specific cohort, is valued at a minimum of $5,103 to a maximum of $7,096. Instead of calculating the specific amounts per cohort, and in effort to be the most fair to all of our students, we are making the choice to evenly distribute these grant funds amongst any eligible student that applies and attests to having financial need related to this the disruption of their education due to Coronavirus.
- Must have been an active student on March 16th, 2020. This includes any student that was out on an approved leave of absence with documented intent to return to training at any time during the school closure period.
- Per federal regulations governing the disbursement of these emergency grant funds, any student that receives these funds must be able to demonstrate Title IV eligibility: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/eligibility/requirements
- Title IV eligibility is demonstrated by having a valid Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file. Those students that would otherwise qualify, but that did not have a valid FAFSA on file as of March 16th, 2020 are welcome to complete the FAFSA at: https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa ***Be careful to ensure that you complete FAFSA for the 2019-2020 year.
- Must return to training after the school reopens (grant funds will not be paid out until after full-time attendance resumes).
- Must complete the Divers Institute of Technology Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Student Grant Application by the stated deadline (no late applications will be considered, as grant award amounts will be determined by the total number of eligible applications received).
Methodology and delivery of funds
- DIT has received a total of $274,356 in student emergency grant funds to directly disburse to students (meaning the money will go to students, not to DIT for any institutional costs).
- Applications will be posted to the DIT website. DIT will send a text message to each student that was active or out on an approved leave of absence on March 16th, 2020 via our systemwide student notification system about the availability of the application and the application deadline. All students consented and updated their current phone numbers with DIT prior to the school closure and were made aware of the fact that this would be DIT’s main method of communication during the school closure period.
- DIT will also post a copy of this policy and procedures document to the website and inform students of its existence. Part of the grant application will include a student acknowledgment that they have read and understand the policies and procedures.
- Student bank account direct deposit authorization forms will be provided in conjunction with the student emergency grant application. DIT will directly deposit the student emergency grant funds into the student bank account provided on the direct deposit authorization form. Anyone that does not have a bank account will receive a paper check.
- A separate bank account from the school’s general account will be established for these funds so that each transaction from the account may be transparently tracked and accounted for. All bank account records will be made available to any auditor or other representative of the Department of Education.
- DIT will begin disbursing student emergency grant funds after the time that this separate bank account has been established and after a student’s full-time attendance resumes.
- The funds will be disbursed in one lump sum payment, not in multiple disbursements, in effort to get money out to students as soon as possible.
Funds will be divided evenly over the total number of eligible grant applicants, with the maximum award amount being no more than $6,195 per person. It is a CARES Act requirement that no distribution should exceed the current maximum allowable PELL grant award for the 2019-2020 year. The amount that each student will receive ultimately depends on the total number of eligible grant applications received by the stated deadline. For example, if we receive 100 eligible applications, each eligible student will receive a total of $2,743.56.
DIT also expects to receive an additional total of $274,356 in institutional grant funds, where the money is directed to be spent on covering any institutional costs associated with having to make significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to Coronavirus. DIT intends to utilize these funds in several ways:
- to increase our IT capabilities and equipment to better deliver online education options,
- toward the cost of online attendance tracking options; and
- for acquiring sufficient personal protective equipment and supplies that we will provide to all staff and students so that we may resume (as soon as possible) and maintain in person training operations which are critical to the completion of the professional commercial diving program.
- Any money that is leftover after eligible institutional Coronavirus related expenses have been covered, will be repurposed into additional student emergency grant funds, which will be evenly distributed amongst the same eligible applicants that received funding from the student portion of the grant. The total of any grant or combination thereof, cannot exceed $6,195 per student. NOTE: these additional funds will not be paid out to any student that has withdrawn from training.
- DIT has until 04/23/2021 to utilize these funds.