Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds Report #1



June 30, 2021

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 $29,440,152 of the emergency financial aid grants to students:

On June 16 , 2021, Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor/CEO, received the Grant Award Notification (GAN) from the Department of Education (ED) under the American relief Plan (ARP Act HEERF III). ACC intends to use the maximum amount possible for emergency aid to students. In compliance with ED who provided a new formula of funding in financial aid grants to students to be provided under sections ARP (a) (1) allocation table and ARP (a) (1) methodology table of the American Rescue Plan (ARP Act). The minimum allocated to emergency aid to students is $29,440,152.

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

ACC has received $29,440,152 to be used for ARP Act Student Aid.

  1. (a) The total amount that has been distributed to students as of September 30, 2021: $7,554,165

(b) The total amount distributed between July1 and September 30, the second

reporting period: $7,554,165

  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution that are eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the ARP (a)(1) and (a)(4) programs.

36,215 students

  1. The total number of students who have received an emergency financial aid grant through ARP funds:

3,744 students

  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, Student Affairs Communication, ACC Marketing, Student Support Advocates, and Enrollment Management. The following brief was developed:

Overview: On June 16, 2021, ACC received $29,440,152 from the Department of Education as part of the ARP 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. ACC has limited the award to $2,500 per student per semester.

ARP requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or with extraordinary financial circumstances, in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students. Due to limited funding, ACC will prioritize currently enrolled students, Pell-eligible students, and other high need populations. ACC prioritized undocumented and DACA students (starting summer 2021 after updated HEERF guidance was provided in May 2021) because these students have faced significant challenges qualifying for financial aid and emergency relief.

On May 11, 2021, ED issued the following updated guidance regarding student eligibility for any remaining ARP HEERF III funds:

  • The definition of “eligible student” for all HEERF funding was changed to be any student who is or was enrolled at an eligible institution on or after March 13, 2020 opening eligibility up to students who were, but may not currently be, enrolled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • ED’s changed it’s opinion about applying the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) to emergency funds making undocumented, international, and DACA students eligible for all HEERF funding.
  •  If students are ineligible for ARP Student Aid, their application will then be considered for ACC’s Student Emergency Fund. Students will not be required to complete an additional request.
  • FAFSA no longer required


  • ARP Act Student Aid Website: https://www.austincc.edu/students/financial-aid/american-rescue-plan
  • The application 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 ARP and Student Emergency Funds.
  • After a student submits their ARP application, it is be routed for funding based on the eligibility status of the student
  • 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

 7) Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the emergency financial aid grants.

ARP Act Student Aid Design

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

American Rescue Plan Student Aid - Money for College & Life During COVID-19

Student Communication

Fall 2021 (ARP)
Communication Mode Student Population # students Constant Contact Link Date Proposed to send Date Sent Open Rate on CC Email
Email Pell-eligible enrolled 221F (eligible & ineligible SAP – still qualify for ARP) 3,148 https://conta.cc/3fBZNRf 8/05/2021
Results: 90% Open Rate 49% CTR
Email ACC Students Who Had Debt Forgiven 888 https://conta.cc/397eFTV 9/15/2021 9/15/2021 Results: 26.9% Open Rate 7.6% CTR
Email All Fall 21 Trad Students 30,286 https://conta.cc/3nzJNnJ 9/16/2021
Results: 61.6% Open Rate 21.2% CTR
Email Opt-In Text – Financial Aid Students 7,827 https://conta.cc/3zGQirj 9/28/2021
Results: 50% Open Rate 7% CTR
Email All Students with a 2021-2022 FAFSA 18,944 https://conta.cc/3icOOiF 9/28/2021
Results: 49% Open Rate 9% CTR
Email Parents of Dual Enrolled ACC Students 1,098 https://conta.cc/3mg9irO 10/1/2021 10/1/2021 Results: 52.2% Open Rate 3.6% CTR

ARP Web Traffic from June 30, 2021 through September 30, 2021

ARP Web Traffic from June 30, 2021 through September 30, 2021:
ARP Web Traffic from June 30, 2021 through September 30, 2021:

Analysis:  The page URL for the relief program changed as the program name changed, the 2 reports above reflect the traffic for both. The combined overall page views for the information would be 34,180 in total. We see a major spike in mid-late September after a period of lower traffic volume that correlates with messaging and promotions on available funds/application open/close dates as previous patterns have shown.

How they found it: Search Query top 10

Query Clicks Impressions
acc cares act 130 206
acc covid relief 111 124
acc crrsa 87 134
crrsa austin community college 85 153
cares act acc 41 51
crrsa acc 18 21
acc covid relief fund 13 16
cares acc 12 24
coronavirus response and relief supplemental appropriations (crrsa) act 9 197

Media Outreach from June 30, 2021 through September 30, 2021


  1. August 9, 2021: More money for financial aid than ever before
  2. August 23, 2021: More money for financial aid than ever before
  3. September 3, 2021: Get extra financial support right now through the new American Rescue Plan

Media Coverage

  1. September 16, 2021: ACCENT | Financial Aid for Beginners


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