2021 in the College

CARES Act Funds for Students Update

To: All Students
From: Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University 
Subject: CARES Act Funds for Students Update 
Date: October 5, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted students across the U.S., generating unplanned expenses that Congress sought to address through the CARES Act, the emergency economic stimulus bill passed in the spring. As announced earlier this summer, the University made the decision to accept $6.2 million from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and to direct the entire amount to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with the greatest financial need who have been negatively impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Autumn Quarter, we are pleased to invite all students who meet the eligibility requirements below and have incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus to submit applications for CARES Act HEERF funding. Starting today, applications are available via my.UChicago.edu under the “Finances” tab. Students will have until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 16, 2020 to file the 2020-2021 FAFSA (if one is not currently on file with the University), and until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, 2020 to submit their HEERF application via my.UChicago.edu, together with any supplementary information required.

As a reminder, the Department of Education’s guidance on these CARES Act HEERF funds limits eligibility to Title IV-eligible students (who must meet certain enrollment criteria and be making satisfactory academic progress), and requires schools to consider socioeconomic circumstances when distributing these funds. In order to be considered eligible to receive this CARES Act HEERF funding, a student must meet all five of the following requirements:

  1. Be currently enrolled in a degree-granting program
  1. Please note that for purposes of this requirement, students on a leave of absence are not considered to be actively enrolled.
  1. Be currently making satisfactory academic progress as defined by your program in accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulations. More information is available here and here.
  2. Have submitted a 2020-2021 FAFSA indicating the University as a recipient by October 16, 2020.
  1. If you have not already submitted a FAFSA for the current academic year, you must submit one to be considered for CARES Act HEERF funding.
  2.  There may be additional steps such as providing your financial aid office with supplementary information, such as a copy of your social security card or citizenship documentation. Please monitor your email for any further instructions. Failure to submit requested documents by October 31 will result in a declined CARES Act HEERF application.
  1. Have reported in your 2020-2021 FAFSA a 2018 income from work of equal to or less than the applicable threshold below:
  1. For current graduate/professional students: $20,000 (student and spouse combined); or
  2.  For current undergraduates: $150,000 (parent(s) on FAFSA).
  3.  If your 2018 income exceeds the applicable threshold, but you have experienced a reduction in 2020 annual income that would meet the above income threshold for eligibility, you will have the opportunity to supplement your HEERF application with proof of estimated annual income for 2020.
  1. Have incurred expenses related to the disruption of University of Chicago campus operations due to coronavirus (“COVID-Related Expenses” as described in greater detail below) while actively enrolled in a degree-granting program at the University.
  1.  Loss of income is not considered an expense. 
  2. You cannot request HEERF funds to cover COVID-Related Expenses that have been or will be paid or reimbursed by any other source (including University emergency aid or HEERF funding that was distributed to you in the Spring Quarter).

Students who are eligible to receive these funds must use amounts received for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus; this includes childcare, course materials, food, health care, housing, technology, and travel. In accordance with the CARES Act, these funds cannot be used to cover University-specific costs such as tuition or other University fees.

Please note, CARES Act HEERF funding is separate from, but can be used in addition to, the financial aid and emergency assistance that the University has already made, and continues to make, available to students in need. If you require additional or emergency funding, the University has existing financial aid programs for students across our undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. You may reach out to your College advisor or area Dean of Students for help navigating University resources. Similarly, the Office of the Bursar has Emergency Assistance Programs with different eligibility requirements.

For additional details on CARES Act funds, please visit the University’s CARES Act webpage. If you have additional questions, you may email studentcaresact@uchicago.edu.