Spring Quarter 2020 CARES Act FAQ

Click here to view UChicago's CARES Act Report from 7/23/20.

What is the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to: (i) provide grants to eligible students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 (“COVID-related expenses”); and (ii) cover institutional costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.  Under the CARES Act, the University of Chicago was allocated $6.2 million in HEERF funds, $3.1 million of which was designated for students under the Act.

How will the University of Chicago use the HEERF funds it was allocated?

The University has decided to allocate the entirety of the $6.2 million to eligible students with the greatest financial need for their COVID-related expenses. The University will not use any HEERF funds to reimburse or otherwise cover our institutional costs.  

Why did the University decide to participate in HEERF?

These funds are an important additional source of support for students with financial need who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University concluded that directing all of the funding to students in need could provide them with significant help separate from, and in addition to, the financial aid and emergency assistance that the University has already made available to students in need.

Will the University use the funds to reimburse itself for financial assistance already provided to students (e.g., the Emergency Assistance Program)?
No, all HEERF funds will be disbursed directly to eligible students through an application process.  HEERF funds will not be retained by the University to offset financial assistance the University has already provided to students.

How much financial assistance can eligible students request?
Eligible students may receive a maximum grant amount of $2,500, based on the availability of funds and number of eligible students identified by the University.

What are the student eligibility requirements?
Eligibility criteria are based on U.S. Department of Education guidance. Students must:
a.    Be currently enrolled at least half-time in Spring Quarter 2020 degree programs;
b.    Have a valid 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file as of May 15, 2020;
c.    Maintain satisfactory academic progress in Spring Quarter 2020;
d.    Not owe a refund for any federal student aid or not be in default on federal student loans;
e.    Be a U.S. citizen or hold another Title IV-eligible status; and
f.    Be a student with significant financial need.  These students have been identified by the University of Chicago and will be contacted by email with information on how to apply for these funds.

What are the COVID-related expenses that can be covered by the HEERF grant funds?
U.S. Department of Education guidance indicates the funds can be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to Covid-19 including food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare.

How do eligible students apply for funding?
Students who meet the criteria in question [6] above will receive an email with instructions on how to access the online application in my.UChicago.edu.  To complete the application, students will need to certify the amount of COVID-related expenses that will be covered by the HEERF grant.

What documentation is needed to submit an application?
Receipts or other documentation of costs are not required.  Eligible students will need to certify that the information they have provided regarding their COVID-related expenses is accurate.

Is there a deadline to apply for HEERF funding?
The deadline to apply is June 13, 2020.

How will students know if their application has been approved?
Students will receive an email notifying them that their application has been approved.

How will eligible students receive the funds?
The Office of the Bursar will disburse grants directly to students.  Students enrolled in Direct Deposit will have funds disbursed directly to their designated accounts.  Students not yet enrolled in Direct Deposit can do so via my.UChicago.edu. If you are not enrolled in Direct Deposit at the time your grant is disbursed, a paper check will be mailed to your physical address listed in my.UChicago.edu. To review or update your address currently on file, go to my.UChicago.edu.

When will funds be disbursed following an approved application?
The University anticipates being able to disburse funds beginning Monday, June 8, 2020.

Can students appeal if their HEERF application is denied?
Appeals are not possible as applications will only be denied if ineligible expenses are claimed.  See eligible expense criteria in question [7] above.

Do recipients of HEERF grants have to repay the amounts they receive?
No. The amounts provided to students are in the form of a grant, not a loan.

If a student receives a HEERF grant, will it affect their financial aid package?
No. Current Financial Aid Awards will not be affected.

What are the tax implications of receiving a HEERF grant?

The University cannot provide personal tax advice to individual students, but encourages you to visit the IRS website for additional information: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/faqs-higher-education-emergency-relief-fund-and-emergency-financial-aid-grants-under-the-cares-act

What is the difference between HEERF funding and the University’s Emergency Assistance Program? Can I receive funding from both?
Funds disbursed as HEERF grants have been directed to eligible students under the CARES Act.  University of Chicago’s Emergency Assistance Program is separately funded by the University.  While you may be eligible to apply for both a HEERF grant and an emergency assistance grant under the University’s program, you cannot request HEERF funds for expenses for which you have already been reimbursed by another program, including the Emergency Assistance Program.

What resources are available to international, DACA and undocumented students and others who are not eligible for HEERF funds?
While federal guidance provides that CARES Act funds cannot be directed to international, DACA, or undocumented students, the University will continue to use our existing mechanisms, such as the Emergency Assistance Program, to support students regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The University also has extensive financial aid programs for students across our undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.

Will there be any HEERF grants made to students enrolled in the Summer or Autumn Quarters?
Provision of HEERF grants for future terms will be decided at a later date, based upon availability of HEERF funds and the extent of disruption caused by COVID-19.

Can eligible students who are graduating in Spring 2020 still receive a HEERF grant?
Students graduating in Spring 2020 have until June 13, 2020 to submit an application to be considered for a HEERF grant.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
For inquiries regarding HEERF funds made available through the CARES Act and individual application status or disbursement, please email studentcaresact@uchicago.edu.