CARES Act Funding FAQs

The Department of Education has distributed funds to colleges and universities through the CARES Act, which are to be used as direct aid to assist students who have been directly impacted by COVID-19. 

What are the CARES Act funds for?
The emergency funds are intended to assist students who have experienced a financial hardship as a result of the disruption in campus activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Documentation which illustrates how the hardship is a result of COVID-19 may be required. If the situation qualifies for emergency aid, the funding may be used for eligible expenses under a student's cost of attendance including: food, housing (including shipping and storage expenses), course materials, technology needs for distance learning, transportation, health care, and child care. The funding cannot be used to cover credit card bills, tuition or on-campus room and board.

CARES Act Emergency Relief funds will come in two forms:
First, a Base Grant Award will be provided to eligible students who apply for a grant and
certify that:

  1. The funds are a direct result of campus disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. The award will be used for qualified expenses under the student’s cost of attendance including: food, housing, course materials, technology needs for distance learning, transportation, health care, and child care.
  3. That the funds requested are equal to or less than the amount of the award.

The amount of the Base Grant will be dependent upon student response rate as of the
application deadline date. Students whose expenses are less than the calculated Base
Grant will receive the lesser, requested amount. Students who request an amount
equal to the calculated Base Grant will receive that amount.

A second award, known as a Supplemental Grant may be provided under certain
circumstances. Students will still need to certify that their request meets the criteria
above, however if the student is requesting more than the calculated Base Grant, they
may provide documentation which justifies receiving additional funding through the
Supplemental CARES Act Emergency Relief grant.

The application is the same for both the Base Grant and Supplemental Grant.
However, documentation may be requested in order to receive the Supplemental award.

Who qualifies for emergency relief funds?
The Department of Education has stated that these funds are to be distributed to students who are experiencing a hardship that is the result of the disruption in campus activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students must be eligible for Title IV Federal Financial Aid (including loans) in order to qualify for CARES Act funds. Aid is available for undergraduate students as well as graduate students.  

How will eligibility be determined?
Students who believe that they have qualifying expenses will be required to submit the SUNY Poly CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund Application to apply for the CARES Act funds and certify that the situation was a direct result of the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The application requires students to indicate how much they are requesting for each eligible category, verify that the funds will be used to cover qualifying expenses, and that these expenses are equal to or more than the amount of the award. Students will be required to have filed or file a FAFSA application in order to be eligible for funds.

CARES Act grant amounts will be determined after the deadline based upon student response rate.  If a student requests more than the initial grant award, they may submit documentation which substantiates the extra amount. This documentation should exhibit how the situation is related campus disruptions resulting from COVID-19 and show the exact cost of the expense. A committee has been established to review all applications and determine students' eligibility. The committee may take into account such factors as how the student was affected, what expenses the student has, and the student's financial need. Priority will likely be given to those students who exhibit higher financial need.

Will everyone receive funding?
Unfortunately, funds are limited and guidance from the Department of Education clearly states that the funds are to be distributed to students who have been impacted. Additionally, students must be eligible for Federal aid in order to qualify for CARES Act funds. Therefore, students' eligibility will be determined through the application process.

How do I apply?
Students may apply to receive emergency funds by submitting the SUNY Poly CARES Act Emergency Relief Fund Application by July 6. Please be sure to include any and all documentation which will demonstrate how you were affected by the virus and what expenses you will pay with the funds.

Please keep in mind that guidance on these funds continues to evolve and some of the criteria mentioned may change. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have concerning your financial aid at finaid@sunypoly.edu

CARES Act HEERF Information (pdf)

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