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State Financial Aid Guidance related to COVID-19


 

Contacting Financial Aid and SELF Loan Staff:

We have transitioned staff to working remotely, but can be reached via phone or email. If you would like to reach someone right away, Financial Aid and SELF Loan staff are available from 8am‐4:30pm Monday — Friday at (651) 642‐0567.

If you prefer email, you can email a detailed question to the following:
SELF Loans: selfloan.ohe@state.mn.us
Other State Financial Aid programs: info.ohe@state.mn.us

Updates

Many Minnesota colleges and universities have expressed concerns regarding how schools should proceed for students impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID‐19). Campus financial aid administrators can find State Financial Aid guidance and resources here. We also encourage institutions to review the resources in the National Association of Student Financial Aid (NASFAA) Coronavirus (COVID‐19) Web Center, which can be found here.

Recipients of the following state financial aid programs will see increased flexibilities and benefits. Some of the changes include:

  • Grant eligibility may be reinstated for students who experience a COVID‐19 related full withdraw from enrollment for the following programs:
    • Minnesota State Grant
    • Postsecondary Child Care Grant
    • Minnesota Indian Scholarship
  • The State Work Study program does not have any restrictions regarding teleworking or remote working. OHE is supportive of schools that make adjustments for their student staff, where appropriate. Please contact your school’s Financial Aid Office to ask about the availability of Work Study jobs.
  • SELF Loan and SELF Refi borrowers are eligible for a 6‐month forbearance if requested by September 30, 2020.

About the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

  • What is the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)?
    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) that provides emergency funding to higher education. A portion of funds must go directly to students and a portion of the funds are directed to schools to cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the Coronavirus. The student portion must go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID‐19 crisis.
  • Who is eligible?
    The HEERF funds are not Federal Title IV student aid; however, guidance from the U.S. Department of Education states that funds should be given to students who are or could be eligible for Federal Title IV student aid in order to receive federal HEERF emergency grants. International, DACAmented and undocumented students are not eligible for Federal Title IV student aid. Additionally, students who were enrolled in exclusively online programs on March 13th, 2020 are not eligible for HEERF grants. However, if you fall into one of these student categories, you should still contact your school's financial aid office because they may have an emergency program that is funded with College or University funds.
  • How do I apply for a HEERF emergency grant?
    HEERF funds are administered by your college or university. The process to apply for these emergency grants will be determined by each institution. Your school may require you to have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), complete an application that your school has developed or your school may pre‐identify students and automatically award the funds. Contact your school's financial aid office to determine how they are administering HEERF emergency financial aid grants. Students should be cautious of websites and services not associated with their college or university that claim to offer applications for COVID‐19 relief funds.
  • Are HEERF funds available for the 2020‐2021 academic year?

That depends. The U.S. Department of Education gave schools up to one year to spend their share of HEERF funds. Some schools may still have remaining HEERF funds available for the current academic year, while others may have fully disbursed funds during 2019‐2020. Contact your school’s Financial Aid Office directly to inquire about the status of their HEERF funds.

  • How will the funds be disbursed?
    Colleges and universities must pay HEERF student emergency grants directly to students and may not apply the grants toward outstanding institutional charges.
Are HEERF student emergency grant funds taxable?
The Treasury Department has released guidance on the taxability of emergency grant funding provided to students through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated, in an FAQ document, that emergency funds provided to students will not count as taxable income.