CARES Act: Emergency funds for eligible students

What is CARES Act funding?

GRCC received funding established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to disburse over $3.4 Million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to eligible students who were impacted by the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Am I eligible?

Students must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for CARES Act funding, based on U.S. Education Department guidelines, and must have incurred expenses as the result of COVID-19-related campus disruptions.

  • Was enrolled in a financial aid-eligible GRCC degree or certificate program during the Winter 2020 semester. 
  • Was enrolled in at least one originally scheduled, face-to-face class on or after March 13, 2020.
  • Filed a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with GRCC and was eligible for federal financial aid during the Winter 2020 semester. 
  • Currently meeting satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements for financial aid recipients.

Students in both credit hour and clock hour based financial aid-eligible programs can be considered for CARES Act funding. A communication about awards will be sent to the GRCC email account of all students who meet eligibility criteria. It will include information on their next steps.

Note: The U.S. Department of Education said students enrolled exclusively in online programs are not eligible for CARES Act funds. We continue to work with the department, asking it to clarify whether students are eligible if they were enrolled exclusively in online classes during the Winter 2020 semester, but whose programs include in-person classes in other semesters. 

We recognize the disruption and additional expenses that these students have incurred and have set aside CARES Act funds that will be issued at a later date to these students, if this is allowed.

Are dual enrolled or middle college students eligible for this funding?

At this time, it is our understanding that only students eligible for federal financial aid may receive CARES Act funds. In order to be eligible for federal financial aid, a student must have earned a high school diploma, GED, or other recognized equivalent.

Are international students eligible for this funding?

Based on current U.S. Department of Education guidance, recipients must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens to receive CARES Act funds.

Is it too late for me to complete the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Students have until June 30, 2020 to complete a FAFSA. If enrolled in the Summer 2020 semester, they may be considered for federal financial aid. If last enrolled in the Winter 2020 semester, students can still complete a FAFSA and be considered for CARES Act funds, provided they meet all other eligibility requirements and funding remains.

If I am eligible, how do I accept my award?

Eligible students will receive a communication to their GRCC email account with instructions on how to complete an award acceptance form available within their Online Center. This form will ask students to affirm that they have allowable expenses related to recent campus disruptions and to confirm their contact information and refund choice. 

To view their award and access this form, eligible students will:

  • Log into their Online Center 
  • Select the CARES Award Acceptance Form tile
  • Review the form, select all expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19 campus disruptions
  • Click the award acceptance button
  • Click submit
  • Confirm their contact information and update it, if necessary, in their Online Center. To do so, they would click on the Profile tile, then select Address

When is the deadline to accept my award?

Funds will be disbursed on a first come, first served basis. While there is currently no deadline for completing the award acceptance form, we encourage students to complete the acceptance process as soon as they are notified of their eligibility.

How much will I receive?

Eligible students will receive up to $500 in CARES Act funds.

Does this award need to be paid back?

CARES Act funds are grants, not loans. These funds do not have to be repaid. CARES Act funds are intended to be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I accept CARES Act funds, will my financial aid be reduced?

No. Your current or future financial aid awards will not be reduced if you accept CARES Act funds to cover expenses due to COVID-19-related campus operation disruptions.

I received notification that I meet the eligibility criteria to receive CARES Act funds, but I did not incur any additional expenses due to COVID-19-related disruption of campus operations. Can I decline this award?

Yes, you can decline the CARES Act funds. To do so, email us at GRCC_CARES@grcc.edu. Indicate that you wish to decline these funds. Unused funds will be awarded to other students who meet eligibility requirements in the future.

How will I receive the funds?

GRCC is partnering with BankMobile to disburse CARES Act funds to eligible students. All enrolled students receive a BankMobile Refund Selection Kit both in the mail and to their GRCC student email. The selection kit allows for the following refund options: 1) deposit to a student’s existing bank or credit union account or 2) deposit to BankMobile Vibe Checking Account. These awards will be disbursed using the same refund method you previously selected.

Students can update their selection choice at: https://bankmobiledisbursements.com/refundchoices/. Students are asked to consider selecting an electronic refund preference as the quickest, most reliable, and safest method. If you have not previously set up a refund preference and need assistance doing so, contact the GRCC Cashier’s Office at cashier@grcc.edu.

When will I receive the funds?

The deadline for the first phase of awarding is June 30, 2020.  After that date, students can no longer accept Phase 1 grants. GRCC is developing plans for a second phase of awards.  Details about the awarding process and how students can qualify will be posted on this website. GRCC will also communicate directly with students who are eligible for Phase 2 awards in the coming weeks.

How can I use the funds?

Students may use these funds for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare) as affirmed on their award acceptance form.

Will I have to pay taxes on CARES Act funds?

No. According to information provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

“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 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant is not includible in your gross income.”

More information is available through the IRS CARES Act website.

Who do I contact with questions?

The GRCC CARES Team can help. Please send questions to GRCC_CARES@grcc.edu or call (616) 234-4000.

What other resources are available?

If you need help with resources for food, housing, and/or financial assistance, please visit the Get Help website.