Department of Education changes CARES Act student relief eligibility requirements

The United States Congress in March passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to eligible students negatively impacted by COVID-19.  The CARES Act allocates funding for university and college students to offset expenses related to campus access disruption associated with the pandemic, such as course materials and technology fees and health-care and other expenses.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced changes to the CARES Act stipulating that all Title IV eligibility related requirements, other than citizenship, are officially rescinded. This change allows schools to extend funding to students who did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), possibly increasing the number of students who are now eligible for relief funding.  Southwest Tennessee Community College is working diligently with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to accurately disburse funds according to the new federal guidelines as swiftly as possible.  Southwest’s goal is to ensure every eligible student receives assistance.

Eligible Southwest students are those who are degree-seeking and were enrolled full- or part-time on or after March 13 for the Spring 2020 semester.

The following students are NOT eligible to receive funds:

  • Students who initially enrolled exclusively in distance education courses as of March 13, 2020,
  • High school dual-enrollment students,
  • Non-degree-seeking students, and
  • Students who enrolled in special-industry training programs through their employer.

The method for disbursing funds has not changed. Eligible students will receive the payments through checks in the mail. Students who have signed up for Touchnet to have funds directly deposited into their checking account will receive the funds faster. Students with checking accounts may sign up for Touchnet on the College’s website.

Thank you for your patience throughout this process. Stay tuned for updates at

For questions, please email

Scoop - May/June 2020