Colleges aren’t the only ones with questions about the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, students have questions too. Last month, ED released a (very) brief Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) with questions from students about Emergency Relief Student Grants.

  1. Do I have to repay the emergency financial aid grant I received from my university through the CARES Act?

No.  The funds provided by the CARES Act are grants, so they do not need to be repaid.

  1. I am a student who received an emergency financial aid grant from my university through the CARES Act. Is this grant includible in my gross income?

No. According to the Internal Revenue Service, “Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139.”   For more information please visit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/faqs-higher-educationemergency-relief-fund-and-emergency-financial-aid-grants-under-the-cares-act.

  1. What can emergency financial aid grants provided by the CARES Act be used for?

Emergency financial aid grants to students can be used for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care). Please click here for more information about what is included in a student’s cost of attendance. 



ED just released guidance for institutions to report how they are using CARES Act Emergency Grants distributed to students under the HEERF. Schools must submit an initial report to ED within 30 days of the institution’s Certification and Agreement and 45 days thereafter. Instructions on the reporting process will be forthcoming in addition to other announcements.
In the meantime, the Department is instructing institutions to post information publicly on their school’s website. To be in compliance schools must post the following information on their website within 30 days after the date when the institution received its allocation of Emergency Grants for students under 18004(a), and update it every 45 days thereafter until such time as the Department provides other guidance.

1. An acknowledgment that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

2. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

3. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

4. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

5. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

6. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

7. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

ED’s Office of Postsecondary Education noted in their recent announcement that institutions must be sure to protect the confidentiality of student data such as student Personally Identifiable Information (PII), adhere with FERPA requirements and use appropriate data suppression methods to do so. Read the May 6, 2020 announcement for more details.


In less than two hours, the U.S. Department of Education will give a breifing on COVID-19 and the CARES Act stimulus package according to a memo just blasted out by ED.

It reads:

” Good morning higher education stakeholders,
Please join senior officials from the U.S. Department of Education for a COVID-19 briefing. The briefing will provide an overview of the Department’s implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, focused on funding allocated to higher education institutions to ensure learning continues. The call will take place on Tuesday, April 21 at 2 p.m. EDT and you may join the call five minutes prior to the start time. To participate, please dial 1-877-692-8955 OR 234-720-6979 and then enter the following Access Code: 7130976#. This briefing is for higher education stakeholders only and is not open to the press.

U.S. Department of Education”


Following the call, ED posted the following informationto their websites. Links are are posted below for your easy reference.

PRESS RELEASE: Secretary DeVos Delivers $6 Billion in Additional Grant Funding to Support Continued Education at America’s Colleges, Universities

COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel

Frequently Asked Questions about the Institutional Portion of the HEERF under Section 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act

The Department continues to update ed.gov/coronavirus with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.





Today the U.S. Department of Education released details about how much postsecondary institutions of higher education will each receive from the recently passed Coronavirus stimulus package know as the CARES Act.

In ED’s press release additional information is given about the process for securing the funding which includes signing an acknowledgement form, and information about how to access the funds through G5 once they are made available. Funds are expected to begin being distributed next week. According to a letter from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this funding will allow colleges to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students and to defray the costs of moving classes online.

Wondering how much your school will recieive?

Check out ED’s CARES Act Pages here for a Letter from the Secretary, A certification of Agreement and The Formula Allocations broken down by college.