CARES Act Student Aid Report #3

August 19, 2020

While the U.S. Department of Education (ED) develops a process for institutions to directly provide the required reporting data, it has in the meantime called for institutions to make easily accessible to the public — via the institution’s website — the following items:

  1. Acknowledgment that the institution signed and returned the certification and agreement form and that the institution has used, or intends to use the funds to provide the mandated amount of at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students:

On April 10, 2020, Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC Chancellor/CEO, signed and submitted to the Department of Education (DOE) the Certification and Agreement for a formula grant under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ACT Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (CARES HEERF). ACC intends to use these funds for emergency aid to students. In compliance with DOE mandate that 50% of total ACC CARES HEERF funds awarded go directly to student aid. ACC was awarded $13,907,000, of which $6,953,900 (50% of total award) has been earmarked for student aid.

  1. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive, or has received under the HEERF student portion.

ACC has received $6,953,900 to be used for CARES Act Student Aid.

  1. (a) The total amount that has been distributed to students as of August 19, 2020: $4,050,654.88

(b) The total amount distributed between May 29, 2020 – August 19, 2020, the third

reporting period: $729,799.85

The CARES Aid application and disbursements were paused during summer term on [July 29, 2020] to prepare for fall 2020. Applications will open again on August 21, 2020. The fall semester starts on August 24, 2020.

  1. 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 therefore eligible to receive an emergency financial aid grant.

6,782  students (this excludes students enrolled in online courses and suspended SAP)

  1. The total number of students who have received an emergency financial aid grant.

4,015 students total have received an emergency financial aid grant from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Fund as of August 19, 2020.

  1. How the institution determined which students did, or will receive emergency financial aid grants and how much funding they did, or will receive.

Austin Community College convened a committee with membership from the chancellor’s cabinet, the business office, the financial aid office, the ACC foundation office, student affairs communication, ACC marketing, student support advocates, and enrollment management. The following brief was developed:

Overview: On April 20, 2020, ACC received $6,953,900 from the Department of Education as part of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. ACC will distribute these emergency funds to students who have experienced or are faced with disruptions of education due to COVID-19. The coronavirus has negatively impacted the health and wellness of ACC students and their families, as well as the regional economy. ACC is keenly aware that the COVID-19 impact has exacerbated pre-existing systemic inequalities and has affected Central Texas’s marginalized communities more deeply than others. In a coordinated effort, ACC will swiftly distribute funds in such a way that it empowers students to use them for their greatest priorities, such as food, housing, health care, child care, learning materials, and more. With the distribution of funding, students will have access to ACC’s full social support resources.

Student Eligibility:

  • Must have FAFSA on file to determine Title IV eligibility
  • Must be actively enrolled in ACC courses
  • Must be in good standing with Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Excludes dual credit, international, continuing education, or adult education
  • Students may request funds once per academic year, but additional requests *will* be reviewed and managed through different approaches.
  • If students are ineligible for CARES Act Student Aid, their application will then be considered for ACC’s Student Emergency Fund. Students will not be required to complete an additional request.


  • CARES Act Student Aid Website:
  • It is hosted on a secure Client Resource Management (CRM) system, Maxient, which our teams use to process and follow-up on requests.
  • ChatBot implemented to answer student questions on a 24/7 basis.

Processing and Distribution of Emergency Funds

  • The new online application for Student Aid is a single point of entry for CARES Act and Student Emergency Funds.
  • After a student submits their CARES application, it is be routed for funding based on the eligibility status of the student (Title IV eligible -CARES Aid or non-Title IV eligible-Institutional Emergency Aid)
  • It may take 3 – 5 days for disbursements of funds once an application is complete (during peak)
  • ACC Business Office processes disbursements 5 days a week
  1. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the emergency financial aid grants.

CARES Act Student Aid Design

Below, is an example of the CARES Act Student Aid design used across multiple web and social media channels to build awareness of and promote access to the CARES Act funds for students.

Date Type Description Link
4/10/2020 Email Chancellor’s Communication for Faculty/Staff and Students COVID 19: CARES Act Stimulus Award to ACC | Students, Faculty & Staff
4/18/ 2020 Newsletter Student Affairs Newsletter: CARES Act Funding Info Student Remote Support Weekly Newsletter
4/24/2020 Email Sent by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, CARES Funds Update CARES Funds Update & BankMobile Message
4/29/2020 Webpage Launch Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Student Aid webpage & request form(by Maxient) launched CARES Act Student Aid ACC CARES Act Student Aid Request Form
4/29/2020 Email Sent by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to all students alerting them the application was available. CARES Act Student Aid — Application Now Available
4/30/2020 Social Media Times are tough, but ACC is here to help you stay on track. The ACC CARES Act Student Aid is now available. Current and new students who have been affected by COVID-19 can apply for financial support. Click here to start: #ACC4Everyone Facebook:
3,450 reach, 193 engagements Twitter: 2,690 impressions, 75 engagements Instagram: 1,121 reach, 51 engagements LinkedIn: 4,425 impressions, 45 reactions
5/2/2020 Newsletter Student Affairs Newsletter: CARES Act Student Aid, Nite in the Life Recap, & Hear From Other ACC Students Student Affairs Newsletter: CARES Act Student Aid
5/14/2020 Webpage Update Provided banner with CARES update directing students to when the form would be available for summer enrolled students. CARES Act Student Aid
5/16/2020 Newsletter Student Affairs Newsletter: You Did it! Grade options, food distribution, CARES Student Aid Update, and more! Student Affairs Newsletter: You Did it! Grade options, food distribution, and CARES Update more!
6/5/2020 Newsletter Brief mention of CARES Student Aid under the Remote Services Portion. Student Affairs Newsletter: Student Affairs Newsletter: De-stressing with ACC Counselors, Celebrating our Graduates, & Getting Connected
6/26/2020 Email Mention of CARES Act Student Aid — with special highlight for technology needs. Return-to-Campus Update & All Services Remain Online
6/27/2020 Newsletter Article around CARES Act Student Aid with tips to consider and an additional mention of CARES Act Student Aid for technology needs. Student Affairs Newsletter: Return to Campus Plan, Meet the Academic Coaches, College Closed July 3rd.
7/11/2020 Newsletter Student Affairs Newsletter: CARES Act Funding Info COVID 19: CARES Act ACC Dean, Financial Aid Tips, and Online Events
7/18/2020 Newsletter Student Affairs Newsletter: CARES Act Funding Info Student Remote Support Weekly Newsletter

Web Traffic Analysis from May 19, 2020 through August 19, 2020

How they found it: Search Query top 10:

The prevalence of the term “CARES” in searches shows that users were familiar with the term and connected it with ACC in their searches.

Query Clicks Impressions CTR Position
acc cares act 992 1112 89.21% 1
cares act acc 256 287 89.20% 1
austin community college cares act 120 137 87.59% 1
cares act austin community college 62 65 95.38% 1
acc cares 57 65 87.69% 1
cares act covid relief college 32 648 4.94% 11.62
cares acc 25 34 73.53% 1
acc cares act student aid 24 25 96% 1
cares act student aid 15 168 8.93% 6.77
acc cares fund 10 11 90.91% 1
Web Traffic Analysis from May 19, 2020 through August 19, 2020

With 18,026 Pageviews and 13,374 of those being unique, users generally visited the page a single time — the Student Banner on the Students page being the top performer as far as graphical adverts. Most users found the page organically through search or a direct click from messaging.

CTA Clicks — Click to the application form itself:

CTA Clicks -- Click to the application form itself:

The trends for clicks to the CARES application itself from the ACC website are shown below. The trend shows an initial surge in early June then sustained activity throughout the summer. The application cut off date in late July halts most relevant click traffic.

External Media

The Office of Communications & Marketing generated targeted media awareness to elevate this news in the community with coverage airing and publishing across multiple media outlets. Within the first 24 hours of announcing applications open, ACC generated eight different media reports. Through external efforts, the reach of information hit more than 2 million people in the community.

Media Advisory


Media Coverage

April 16:

April 30:

May 1:

July 20:

  • Targeted News Service

July 17:

  • El Mundo

Institutional CARES ACT HEERF

In May 2020, Austin Community College District received $6,953,900 in CARES Act Institutional Funding to assist with the transition from in-person to online courses, and as of 08/13/20 $2,799,977.15 has been spent leaving a balance of $4,153,922.85. The College has used the funds to procure tablets, notebook computers, a (COVID-19) health screening app, instructional software and supplies.

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