What Does "To the Greatest Extent Possible" Mean For HEERF I, HEERF II, and HEERF III Grants?

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This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on May 13, 2021 to include guidance in the respective Certification and Agreement for HEERF I grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), HEERF II grants under the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA, Section 314 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), and HEERF III grants under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

In order to receive student or institutional HEERF I, HEERF II, and HEERF III grants, the institution must, to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to the Coronavirus.

NASFAA's interpretation is that the language, "to the greatest extent practicable," is an acknowledgement by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that it is unreasonable to expect an institution to continue to pay all employees/contractors during a national crisis. If an institution is making a good faith effort to pay employees to the extent possible, and can document accordingly, the institution should not be concerned about this provision. Note that neither the CARES Act, the CRRSAA, nor the ARP exclude Federal Work-Study (FWS) or non-FWS student employees from this requirement.

NASFAA cannot say whether the institution will be at risk of losing funds if employees are furloughed or laid off. This is a question for your ED School Participation Division. Beyond this, you will need to consult your school's legal counsel. NASFAA is unable to provide further guidance on this topic.

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Update Note: This Q&A was previously updated on January 21, 2021 to reflect requirements under the CRRSAA.

AskRegs Q&As represent NASFAA's understanding of regulatory and compliance issues. They are FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. While NASFAA believes AskRegs Q&As are accurate and factual, they have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). If you should need written confirmation of AskRegs information for audit or program review purposes, please contact your ED School Participation Division. NASFAA shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein; nor for incidental or consequential damages resulting from the furnishing, performance, or use of this material.