On April 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that over $6 billion will be awarded to institutions of higher education for emergency financial aid grants through the CARES Act. These funds are for student expenses related to disruptions in education caused by COVID-19, including course materials and technology, food, housing, health care, and childcare. Unfortunately, these funds might not be available to international students, students enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and undocumented students. However, some institutions like the California Community College system have challenged this decision.
Every institution can create its own process for distributing CARES funding. Some institutions are using an application, others are using a formula based on the FAFSA, or doing a hybrid of the two. However, college officials are required to provide “instructions, directions, or guidance” to students on how to access these funds.
California State University Long Beach’s CARES Act website is a great institutional example.
We urge all college students to reach out to their institutions to inquire about the CARES funding. Colleges may have sent out multiple emails with COVID-19 updates, so an email regarding CARES funding might have gotten lost in the shuffle. Students experiencing homelessness or from foster care can reach out to their liaison, financial aid administrator, or another trusted faculty or staff member to learn how to access these funds.
Note that some institutions might also have emergency aid funds available in addition to the CARES funding and we encourage students to inquire about and utilize these funds.
If you are experiencing homelessness in college we also have resources available to help you navigate your education. Visit our website to learn about navigating topics such as FAFSA, student loans, accessing basic needs, buying a car, and much more.