What is the CARES ACT?

The CARES ACT is federal legislation that was passed by the United States Congress in March 2020. It provides financial support to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. Mountain Empire Community College will receive $1,394,924 from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT). MECC has signed and returned the Certification and Agreement to the U.S. Department of Education. MECC will 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. 

The US Department of Education has mandated half of CARES ACT funds must be used exclusively to support students facing urgent needs created by the coronavirus pandemic as a result of the disruption of campus operations. An estimated 744 students are eligible for $520,800 in CARES ACT funding. Eligible students will receive an estimated $700 in CARES ACT funds. Funds can be used for COVID-19-related expenses including technology, food, housing, health care, or child care. This money is not a loan and does not have to be repaid. 

Who is eligible?

MECC students enrolled during the Spring 2020 semester may be eligible to receive CARES ACT assistance (even if you did not actually receive an aid award). Students who are receiving a payment will be notified through their SIS Message Center. Students do not need to apply for these funds. 

To be eligible for the direct payment portion of the funds, students must have been enrolled as of March 13, 2020, and:

  • Must have completed a FAFSA for the 2019-20 academic year. The deadline for completing this application is June 30, 2020. 
  • Must be Title IV Eligible as of Spring 2020.  This eligibility is determined by the completed FAFSA application which requires confirmation of eligibility under HEA Section 484 requirements and enrollment in a degree or certificate program that is eligible for Title IV funding
  • Must be actively enrolled in 6 or more credits that are financial aid approved for program placement  
  • Must have a family income below the College’s established EFC ceiling of 200,000 for credit students.

Unfortunately, pursuant to the Department of Education guidelines, certain students are not eligible to receive funding under either category of the CARES ACT.  Students who are not eligible include: 

  • Dual Enrollment, Concurrent Enrollment, and current Homeschool students
  • Students enrolled in all online classes
  • DACA or ineligible citizenship status for Title IV aid
  • Incarcerated in federal or state penal institution
  • Non-credit (including FastForward) students

When will I receive my payment?

The College’s business office will begin dispersing funds to eligible students once we receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education.  We expect that all eligible students will receive funds by May 31.  They will be applied via direct deposit or check based upon each student’s previously selected refund option.  

These funds are intended to be used to assist with the financial challenges in receiving higher education brought upon by the pandemic.  Recipients are encouraged to use their funds in a manner which will support continuing their education in an online environment.  Students may purchase laptops, obtain internet access, purchase books or other course materials, or pay tuition.  These funds may also include costs related to food, housing, health care, childcare, or any other expense the student deems necessary.

Emergency Grants

In addition, MECC students that have experienced a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify for an additional federal CARES ACT grant, which provides emergency funding to college students.

An estimated 108 students are eligible for emergency grants. Students who have not completed the 2019-2020 FAFSA and were therefore not eligible for the direct payment option, may still be eligible to apply to receive funds under the MECC CARES ACT Emergency Assistance criteria. Likewise, students who were not enrolled in at least six credits as well as students who did receive CARES ACT funding in the spring of 2020 and who are enrolled in Summer or Fall 2020 courses may qualify.  All applicants under this category must file a 2019-20 FAFSA prior to June 30, 2020.  Students do not have to be deemed eligible to receive Pell funding to become eligible, but will have to be deemed Title IV eligible.  This means that students must have a verified social security number, registration for selective service (if the student is male), U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen, have a high school diploma or GED, have met satisfactory academic progress and be enrolled in an approved program of study under Title IV guidelines.  Without a FAFSA on-file, the College cannot verify this information.  In addition to the FAFSA, students seeking assistance under this program must complete the application by clicking the link below.

Emergency Grant Awards

As of May 13, 2020, $520,800 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants have been distributed to 744 students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES ACT. As of June 27, 2020, an additional $32,900 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants have been distributed to 47 additional students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES ACT. To determine eligibility for awards, all students are required to submit an application available here.  Applications are reviewed by a Committee of College administrators and staff to ensure that all students meet eligibility requirements.under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES ACT. To determine awards, all students are required to submit an application (available below). Applications are reviewed by a Committee of College administrators and staff to ensure that all students meet eligibility requirements. 

 Read the full report:

How do I apply?

Only students who wish to receive the CARES ACT Emergency Grant are required to apply. Please complete the MECC CARES ACT Emergency Grant Application by clicking the link below. Awarding of funds will be made on a case-by-case basis. MECC will respond to your request within 5 business days after submitting the application. There is no deadline to apply.

Questions? 

For more information or questions related to CARES ACT Direct Payment, please call the MECC Business Office at 276.523.2400. For questions regarding the CARES ACT Emergency Grant, please call Lelia Bradshaw, Dean of Student Services, at 276-523.2400 ext. 288 or lbradshaw@mecc.edu.