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CARES Act Funds for Students

Important information regarding the CARES Act for students

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Education then created guidelines for universities, including Emporia State University, to follow when disbursing the funds.

The application deadline has passed. Applications will be re-opened based on available funding.

Who is eligible?

  • Degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students who meet eligibility criteria for federal financial aid, including meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Have a completed 2019-20 or 2020-21 FAFSA on file at Emporia State*
  • Students who were enrolled in at least one on campus course prior to March 13, 2020
  • Remained enrolled through the end of the spring 2020 term
  • Incurred expenses directly related to the closure of ESU’s campus after face-to-face classes moved to remote instruction.
  • Have not received a refund of room and/or board charges from ESU, or funds from the Foundation Emergency Assistance Scholarship.

*Students who did not complete a 2019-20 FAFSA are encouraged to complete a 2020-21 FAFSA. The 2020-21 FAFSA determines federal aid eligibility for summer 2020 through spring 2021.

What students are NOT eligible to receive CARES Act funds?

Per U.S. Department of Education guidelines the following students are not eligible:

  • International and undocumented students.
  • Enrolled in distance-only degree programs; or
  • Enrolled in all online courses before the coronavirus emergency declaration on March 13, 2020

What are the Relief Grants that ESU is paying out to students?

The CARES Act directed universities to prioritize students whose families are in the low-middle income categories.

Therefore, Emporia State will use some of the CARES Act funds to provide emergency relief grants to Pell eligible students. If you received a Pell Grant for the spring 2020 semester you may automatically qualify for the grant and do not need to submit an application for consideration. Eligible students will be notified through their ESU email account prior to payment of funds.

All other students who meet eligibility requirements (see “Who is eligible”) will need to submit an application to request assistance for CARES Act funds. Students eligible for the automatic relief grant may also complete the application to request additional assistance. At this time students may apply for assistance only once.

*NOTE* CARES Act funding cannot be requested to replace lost income or to cover expenses not directly related to campus closure.

What kind of expenses qualify for CARES Act emergency grants?

CARES Act funds can be used to assist with food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or child care expenses incurred due to campus closure.

How will ESU get my CARES Act funds to me?

For students who have direct deposit set up these funds will go directly to your bank account.

Students are strongly encouraged to set up direct deposit if they have not done so already. The move to remote operations has resulted in slower processing times for check refunds. If you do not have direct deposit set up, a check will be mailed to your permanent address. Login through Hornet365 and review your address(s). If you need to update your permanent address you may do so by visiting this link.

You can set up direct deposit by logging into the Student Account Center. If you need assistance with this process reach out to

What if I have an outstanding balance on my student account? Will my funds pay that first?

No. The full amount of emergency grants will be paid directly to you. ESU will not hold any funds to pay any balance owed. For questions reach out to

When will I receive my CARES Act funds?

Emporia State wants you to receive this financial assistance as quickly as possible. We started processing emergency grant relief the week of May 11 and applications will continue to be reviewed as they are received.

Additional Information

ESU's acknowledgement

Emporia State University signed and returned to the Department of Education the Certification and Agreement on April 23, 2020.  As part of that agreement, ESU fully intends to use no less than 50 percent of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds provided through the CARES Act to directly assist students.

Total funds received for emergency grants to students


Total funds distributed to students

As of 5/11/20, the total amount distributed is $1,160,400.
As of 6/10/20, the total amount distributed is $1,343,636.
As of 7/22/20, the total amount distributed is $1,638,536.

As of 8/10/20, the total amount distributed is $1,647,436.

As of 9/14/20, the total amount distributed is $1,647,436.

Estimated total eligible students

Based on the methods the institution has used to determine eligible students, it is estimated that about 2,300 students could benefit from these funds.

Total recipients

As of 5/11/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 967.
As of 6/10/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,151.

As of 7/22/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,729.

As of 8/10/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,735.

As of 9/14/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,735.

ESU’s methodology

The Department of Education advised institutions that students, while these funds are not Title IV funds, must be eligible for Title IV funds using the basic eligibility criteria outlined in Section 484 of the Higher Education Act.  Those criteria are:

* Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program. 

* Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school.

* For currently enrolled students, be making satisfactory academic progress.

* Not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans.

* Not be in default on a Title IV loan.

* File "as part of the original financial aid application process" a certification that includes

* A statement of educational purpose.

* Student's SSN.

* Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible noncitizen.

* Have returned fraudulently obtained Title IV funds if convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges. 

* Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits.

* Have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently.

* Have Selective Service registration verified.

* Have Social Security Number verified.

* Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.

Moreover, the Secretary of Education and the Department of Education encouraged that institutions prioritize funding for those students with the greatest need.  The Department of Education also gave the stipulation that these funds are to be distributed to students who experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus and that funding for this program was calculated to exclude students who were exclusively enrolled in distance education courses.  To comply with these factors and guidance, Emporia State University selected students who were Pell-eligible for 19-20 through the filing of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), ensured that they met the basic eligibility requirements as outlined above, and also ensured that they were enrolled in at least one on-campus course prior to March 13, 2020 when the President of the United States declared a national emergency.  This group of students was selected for a block grant which was distributed on May 8, 2020.  All other eligible students who do not meet the Pell-eligible criteria but meet all the other criteria are encouraged to apply for remaining funds on a first-come first-serve basis until the funds are exhausted.

ESU’s communication strategies

Enrolled students were informed by email about eligibility and given instructions on how eligible students could apply. Students were also provided with a link to the CARES Act FAQ on our website and encouraged to reach out to Financial Aid with questions.