Following up on yesterday’s post. How does a student get cash from his school’s emergency student aid grant under the CARES Act? It depends on the school, and most have not formalized their policies yet.

First, how do these funds work? The CARES Act funds– officially HEERF – Student Share (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund)– are not Title IV education funds and therefore are not subject to Title IV rules. The only statutory requirement is that the funds “are only intended to cover a student’s expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).” The Department of Education also suggests capping grants to individual students at the amount of the Federal Pell Grant ($6,195); however, that is a guideline rather than a requirement. Each school can determine whether the funds will be awarded on a need-basis or not; however, the school must sign a funding agreement that stipulates that all grants go “directly to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses.” The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators recommends that these grants also cover travel expenses for students who needed to return from study abroad or fly home due to classes being cancelled.

If your student is impacted, here is what they can do:

  • Reach out to their school’s financial aid office to get information about eligibility and process.
  • Keep documentation of all expenses incurred that could be eligible for reimbursement so that the student is ready when their school is.