Columbia College Hollywood’s CARES ACT Information & FAQs

We compiled the following questions to provide answers to your questions relating to Columbia College Hollywood and Flashpoint Chicago’s CARES Act policy. We will keep this updated, and it will be accessible online on our homepage.

Additionally, here is some information you should have regarding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting- Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

  • Columbia College Hollywood acknowledges that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and assures the institution 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.
  • CCH received a total of $702,919 from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
  • As of August 31, 2020, CCH distributed all $702,919 in Emergency Financial Aid Grants funds to students. Funds were distributed to students who qualified under the CARES Act in two tranches on May 29, 2020 and August 31, 2020.
  • On May 29, 2020, the 754 students who were eligible to participate in the program each received $911.  CCH chose to distribute an equal dollar amount to all eligible students. This amounted to $686,894 or 98% of the available funds received.
  • On August 31, 2020, CCH distributed the remaining $16,025 to students who were more highly impacted by COVID-19 and needed additional help above and beyond the one-time distribution. Those situations were examined on a case-by-case basis

Sections 3504, 18004, and 18008 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted on March 27, 2020, allow higher education institutions to use certain funds allocated by the Department of Education to support students and higher education institutions with expenses and financial needs related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Section 3504 of the CARES Act allows higher education institutions to use additional supplemental educational opportunity grant funds they receive through the Higher Education Act to award emergency financial aid grants to support graduate and undergraduate students experiencing “unexpected expenses and unmet financial need” as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Section 18004 of the CARES Act directs the Secretary of Education to allocate funds out of the Higher Education Relief Fund to higher education institutions to directly support students facing urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including school closures. These funds may be used (1) to defray the institutions’ expenses, including lost revenues and payroll for employees and (2) for “emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).” Recipient higher education institutions must pay no less than 50 percent of these funds to students as emergency financial aid grants.

Section 18008 of the CARES Act directs the Secretary of Education to allocate additional funds to Howard University and Gallaudet University to directly support students facing urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support these institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including school closures. These funds may be used (1) by the institutions to help defray their expenses and (2) for “grants to students for expenses directly related to” the COVID-19 pandemic and for expenses “caused by the disruption of university operations” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCH CARES ACT FAQS

Eligibility requirements for this program include: U.S. citizenship, current eligibility to participate in Title IV loan programs, and enrollment in primarily ground based programs on either the Los Angeles or Chicago campus prior to the COVID-19 disruption. Students who were enrolled exclusively in an online program are not eligible for emergency financial aid grants.

The CARES Act provides institutions with significant discretion on how to award this emergency assistance to students. This means that each institution may develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds, which may include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need. The only statutory requirement is that the funds be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).  CCH is currently evaluating and developing the process that will determine how funds are allocated.  Our objective is to do whatever is possible to support you and your classmates who have the greatest need.

CCH is working to develop and approve guidelines and disbursement processes so that we can get funds into the hands of students as quickly as possible. While we cannot tell you precisely when this will occur, I can assure you that our institutional directive is to obtain rapid approvals to quickly disburse available funds to help our students during this time.
Once we have completed and finalized allocation methodology and timeline we will send out a communication informing all students of the next steps in the process. For those of you who receive funds and wish to donate your allocation back to CCH to assist other students with greater need, CCH will be setting up a special process to allow you to do that.
Please note when funds are disbursed, depending on your stipend directive, your funds will either go directly to you, your parents, or your legal guardian.
Supplemental CARES Act Assistance:
Columbia College Hollywood disbursed $911 to all eligible Chicago and Los Angeles campus students per the CARES Act legislation. This Department of Education aid was provided to recognize the financial challenges students have experienced due to COVID-19.  For many of our students, this funding should help bridge their college expense gap while getting through this difficult time.  We understand, however, that there will be some CARES Act eligible students in our community that have been hit particularly hard by this pandemic and may still need help managing their expenses.  In an effort to provide additional support, we have set aside a small pool of CARES Act funds to further assist those students that can demonstrate an extreme hardship as a result of the coronavirus.  The following protocol will be adhered to for awarding the remaining allocation:
  • Supplemental CARES Act Assistance requests must be received by June 22nd.
  • Students must be eligible under the CARES Act definition (see CCH CARES Act FAQ #1).
  • Students must complete and submit this form, an official request for additional financial support. 
  • Upon request, students should be prepared to provide documentation as evidence supporting their extenuating circumstances (i.e. letter from employer, medical doctor, etc).
  • A committee will review each application and make a determination who will receive additional funding.
  • All awards are a fixed amount and a finite number will be distributed based on the CARES Act funds set aside for this purpose.
  • All decisions will be final and notification given to students receiving additional benefits within 7 business days of the June 22, 2020 cut-off date.

No. Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant is not includible in your gross income.

No. Because the emergency financial aid grant is not includible in your gross income, you cannot claim any deduction or credit for expenses paid with the grant including the tuition and fees deduction, the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit. See section 139(h) of the Internal Revenue Code.

No. The emergency financial aid grants are qualified disaster relief payments, as described in A1 above, and are not included in students’ gross income. As noted in A2 above, students may not claim deductions or credits for these amounts. The reporting of these grants to the IRS on Forms 1098-T could result in the issuance of underreporter notices (Letters CP2000) to students and furnishing such Forms 1098-T to students could cause confusion. Thus, the IRS will not require that these grants be reported pursuant to section 6050S of the Internal Revenue Code on Form 1098-T.

At CCH, we believe it is important to take a stand by demonstrating our willingness to promote and inspire systemic change. We must speak honestly and truthfully to the ugliness of racism that permeates throughout our society today. It may be an uncomfortable conversation for some, but it is an all-too familiar reality for anyone living in this country with black or brown skin. Hiding from it, ignoring it, or being silent about it will not make it go away.

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