Grand Canyon University (GCU) was successful in navigating the challenges of COVID-19 throughout the 2020-21 academic year, keeping the health and safety of our students and staff top of mind. Through our voluntary vaccine and testing policies, robust mitigation efforts and the diligence and cooperation of students, staff and faculty, we finished the year with five or fewer active cases of COVID-19 in each of the last six weeks of the spring 2021 semester.
We also proudly served our surrounding community during the pandemic by producing and distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), collaborating with our partners to offer COVID-19 testing sites on campus and operating a Point of Distribution (POD) vaccination site that administered more than 115,000 vaccines to the public.
For the 2021-22 academic year, we are delighted to announce that campus operations will be returning to the normal pre-pandemic experience that GCU is known for. This includes the welcoming and innovative move-in and Welcome Week experience as well as in-person instruction and campus activities, such as clubs and athletic events, that will operate without restrictions. Students who wish to take online courses will continue to have that option as course content permits.
We will continue to partner with local health authorities to monitor the data and information carefully, and we are confident we can adjust our operations, if needed. But our plan is to reopen the campus without restrictions in the fall semester.
Recent Communications from GCU
FAQs for 2021-22 Academic Year
GCU continues to partner with state and local health authorities to carefully monitor COVID-19 in Arizona and its impact specific to our campus, and we are confident we can adjust our operations, if needed. Guidelines and policies outlined below are subject to change based on those conditions.
Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was passed which authorized funding under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”) to Institutions of Higher Learning. These funds were divided into a “Student Portion” and “Institutional Portion”. The Student Portion is required to be provided as Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. The Institutional Portion is to be used to reimburse the university for costs it incurred related to disruption on campus. GCU is committed to using the Institutional Portion to provide additional student grants and other expenditures for the direct benefit of students.
Grand Canyon University signed and returned to the Department of Education its Certification and Agreement for the Student Portion on April 15, 2020, with our assurance that GCU has used or intends to use 100% of the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students funding for eligible students. We have $11,175,699 available for the Student Portion.
As of July 29, 2020, there were an estimated 18,000 students from spring 2020 eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (the “HEA”) and were potentially eligible to receive the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. The university sent out 17,946 emergency grant checks totaling $10,947,060.
In order to be considered for this grant, students attending the spring 2020 term must have been in an Active status within our Student Information System as of March 1, 2020, must have been enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program of study that was not offered in a 100% online modality, and must have met all Title IV eligibility requirements set forth in HEA Section 484. As we confirm students’ eligibility for Title IV funding, the estimated number of eligible recipients fluctuated. Recognizing that all eligible students experienced additional expenses due to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GCU determined that the most equitable way to disburse these grant funds to our students was to divide our total allocation by the estimated number of eligible students.
Information on the use of the Student Portion grant funds was communicated to students via a letter insert with the emergency grant check which informed students that this grant was to assist with any unforeseen expenses that may have been incurred as a result of the disruption of campus operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic such as expenses for food, housing, course materials and technology, health and childcare. Students for whom GCU was unable to confirm eligibility to receive a grant based on HEA Section 484 requirements have also been contacted to provide them an opportunity to demonstrate eligibility under HEA Section 484.
Subsequent to July 29, 2020, the university was able to validate students’ eligibility and additional Student Portion grants were distributed and others were returned to the university by students for various reasons. As of 9/30/2020, GCU has issued a total of 17,867 checks totaling $10,898,970 for the Student Portion for eligible students. The remaining funds will be disbursed to students by the end of December 2020.
As of December 31, 2020, the university completed the disbursement of the entire $11,175,699 in emergency financial aid grants to 18,420 eligible students. Additionally, in October 2020, GCU received the Institutional Portion of the CARES Act funds in the amount of $11,175,698. The university retained $3,055,807 to offset housing refunds issued to students in the spring 2020 semester. The remaining amount of $8,119,891 was disbursed directly to 16,239 students as additional emergency financial aid grants.
As of June 30, 2021, all checks sent to the students that were voided, due to returns or were stale dated, were resolved. These uncashed student checks were from both the student and institutional allocations of funds. The Institutional Portion of the CARES Act funds were then reallocated between the categories of disbursements to students and offsets to housing refunds. After resolving the voids and re-issued checks, the University retained $3,272,807 to offset housing refunds issued to students in the Spring 2020 semester from the Institutional Portion. The remaining portion of $7,902,781 was accepted by students as direct payments. Combined with the emergency financial aid grants to the students, a total of 34,226 checks were cashed by students, totaling $19,078,590. There were 24,935 students who received one or more direct payments. Student awards were $610 for those funded for the spring 2020 term and $500 for those funded for the fall 2020 term. Some students received awards for both terms.