What is the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?

The recently enacted federal CARES Act provides money to colleges and universities for emergency student grants. The purpose of the money is to award emergency financial aid grants to students for specific expenses that are a direct result of the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency grants cannot be used to replace a loss of income or to pay for student expenses that are not directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the deadline to apply?

The application period for both funding phases begins June 8, 2020.

  • Phase 1: The phase one application period will stay open until all funding has been awarded.
  • Phase 2: The final application due date for phase two is July 22, 2020.

Which students are eligible to receive the CARES Act grant?

Current degree-seeking students enrolled in on-campus classes during the spring 2020 semester (as of March 13, 2020) who are eligible to apply for federal financial aid are eligible to apply for CARES Act funds.  Students who meet these criteria must also demonstrate that they incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.

In accordance with the guidance issued from the U.S. Department of Education, international and undocumented students are not eligible to receive emergency grants .

For further details on exact eligibility criteria, go to the Application for CARES Award form.

How will I know if I’ve been approved for a grant?

After you apply, you will receive a confirmation email. Then, starting June 15, 2020, you will begin to receive notifications, via email, if your application has been approved or denied.   

What expenses will be considered?

Expenses you incurred as a result of the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 health emergency such as housing, food, technology, childcare, medical/healthcare, transportation expenses. Here are some examples:

  • You lived on campus or used a meal plan and now you are experiencing housing or food insecurity.
  • You routinely used the computer labs to do your schoolwork, but now need a computer to continue your education remotely.
  • You needed to purchase a hotspot or internet access for your home.
  • You received health services through our wellness center and now need to seek treatment elsewhere that is not covered by your insurance.
  • The childcare center your dependent attended closed and you’ve had to hire alternative care so that you can continue your coursework.
  • You incurred transportation expenses returning home or storing your personal belongings because you could not return to campus to retrieve them.

How much funding can I receive?

  • Phase one awards will be the lesser of $250 or total expenses listed on the application. The total phase one pool of funding is $881,678 and once these funds are depleted, the phase one awards will be discontinued.
  • Phase two awards will vary depending on how many students apply. The total phase two pool of funding is $4,000,000. Phase two awards will also be tiered based on students’ financial need levels using the expected family contribution (EFC) on file with Financial Aid. If all eligible students apply (about 7,200) for phase two, the estimated award amount will be $400 - $700, depending on EFC level. However, if fewer students apply than the total pool of eligible students, then the award amounts would be higher.

Phase two awards will be limited to the total amount of expenses listed on the application form minus any amount of phase one award that you have already received as of the time that phase two awards are processed.

If approved, when will I receive funding?

  • Phase one awards will be paid out on a weekly basis (starting the week of June 15, 2020) until all phase one funds are depleted.
  • Phase two awards will be paid out between July 29, 2020 and August 5, 2020.

If you have not already done so, we recommend that you sign up for direct deposit with the Office of Student Accounts to expedite the delivery of funds to you.  Sign up for direct deposit here: Visit our tutorial on how to set up your e-refund account:

Can I receive awards in both phase one and phase two?

Yes. If you wish to receive both awards, you can indicate this on the application form.

If, at the time you apply, the phase one funds are already depleted (so, therefore you won’t receive any phase one award), the full amount of your expenses listed on the application will be automatically considered towards the phase two award.

Do I have to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive CARES Act funds?

  • We must have the 2019-20 FAFSA on file to consider your application. 

Once funds are disbursed, are there restrictions on how the money can be used?

The funds should be used to meet the expenses that will support the continued pursuit of your education.

Can I appeal the decision outcome?

  • No, there are no appeals regarding the decision or the grant amount.

Will everyone get some of these funds?

No. While the amount of funding that William Paterson is receiving seems to be quite large, we anticipate helping many students who meet the criteria established by the federal government and U.S. Department of Education.  If your application is denied, you will be notified via your William Paterson University email.

My family had a loss of income, what can I do?

If your family has experienced a loss of full-time wages for more than 10 weeks, we encourage you to appeal for a review of your special circumstances; this process is called Special Conditions. With this process, your Financial Aid Counselor will be able to review documentation related to unemployment or other factors that led to a change in the household income and with this information, make changes your FAFSA to reflect the current income. This important process may qualify you to receive additional funding for the 2020-2021 aid year. The link to the Special Conditions form is:

How do I donate to help students?

Make a gift to WP’s Student Emergency Support Fund