COVID-19 Student Financial Aid FAQs

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding (HEERF) 

The HEERF, initially created and funded by the COVID-19 CARES Act, is part of federal government COVID-19 emergency grants provided to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus. We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you navigate this new situation. You can find answers below to frequently asked questions about eligibility, steps to apply, how these grants work with other financial aid, and how funds will be administered.

HEERF Disclosure and Information

George Mason University submitted the Certification and Agreement for the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) allocation for Student Emergency Aid on April 13, 2020, and received notice of the award on April 22, 2020.  Additional funding for the HEERF was provided by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), signed into law on December 27, 2020, referred to as “HEERF II”.  A third round of funding for the HEERF program was provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed into law on March 11, 2021, referred to as “HEERF III”.  Information and required disclosure reports about Mason’s receipt and use of these funds can be found below.

CARES Act (HEERF I):

May 22, 2020 Update
July 6, 2020 Update
August 20, 2020 Update
September 30, 2020 Update
December 31, 2020 Update
March 31, 2021 Update/Final
Institutional Funds Quarterly Report - September 30, 2020/FINAL

CRRSAA (HEERF II):

Student Aid Quarterly Report  - Jan - Mar 2021
Student Aid Quarterly Report  - Apr  - Jun 2021
Institutional Funds Quarterly Report - Jan - Mar 2021
Institutional Funds Quarterly Report - Apr - Jun 2021/FINAL

ARPA (HEERF III):

Student Aid Quarterly Report - Apr - Jun 2021
Institutional Funds Quarterly Report - Apr - Jun 2021

Read More Here


 

How to Apply

How do I apply for emergency funding through the CARES Act HEERF program?

All COVID-19 emergency student funding including the COVID-19 CARES Act awards occurs through the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund application


Eligibility

Who is eligible for the CARES Act awards?

Only enrolled, degree/certificate seeking students who are eligible for financial aid (as set forth by the FAFSA), may receive awards under the COVID-19 CARES Act. 

DACA students and International students are NOT eligible for the CARES Act awards. 

Are students who are not eligible for federal aid (DACA or international students) eligible to apply for CARES Act funding?

Students must be financial aid eligible (as set forth by the FAFSA.)  However, international and DACA students may still submit a request for emergency funding through the COVID-19 student emergency assistance process, which if approved, would come from other sources other than the CARES Act. 

Are there enrollment requirements for emergency assistance funding?

Yes, students must be currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program to be considered for emergency assistance funding. 

Are students who were enrolled <b>exclusively in online programs </b>prior to the COVID-19 national emergency eligible to receive CARES Act funding?

Students who were enrolled exclusively in an online program on March 13, 2020, the date of the President’s Proclamation, are not eligible for COVID-19 CARES Act Funds.   

I am not eligible for federal financial aid as set forth by the FAFSA. Can I still request financial help?

Yes. You can apply for funding through the COVID-19 student emergency assistance funding process. The COVID-19 CARES Act funding is limited to students who are eligible federal financial aid based on their FASFA. Submitting an application can give you access to other funding sources available to Mason students who are currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program and are impacted by COVID-19.

If I accept a CARES Act award offered by financial aid, can I still apply for funds through the COVID-19 emergency assistance funding process?

Yes, students who received a COVID-19 award through financial aid can still apply for emergency CARES act funds through the COVID-19 student emergency assistance funding process. 

If you previously received an award from the COVID-19 student emergency assistance fund, you may be still be eligible for the COVID-19 CARES award through financial aid, however, the total amount of funds received will be taken into consideration when determining if additional funds will be offered. 

If I did not accept all financial aid offered to me, is it possible to still receive a CARES Act award?

Yes, you can apply through the COVID-19 student emergency assistance funding application process which draws from multiple sources of funding including the COVID-19 CARES Act. 

If I already received emergency funding through the COVID-19 student emergency assistance funding process can I still apply for a CARES Act award?

Application for COVID-19 CARES Act awards occurs through the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund application.  Students are only allowed to receive funds once through this process.


Financial Aid and Accounts

Can George Mason University use the COVID-19 CARES Act funds received to direct pay for student's outstanding or overdue bills?

No, the institution may not use CARES funding to directly satisfy a student’s outstanding account balance.  

I received a COVID-19 CARES Act grant but Student Accounts indicates I still owe a balance to Mason. Do I have to pay my balance with this grant?

Under the COVID-19 CARES Act rules, any awards made from the fund must go directly to the student and cannot be applied to account balances first.  Unpaid balances are still subject to all the normal rules regarding outstanding balances at Mason. 

Will this award affect my existing financial aid if I have already met my cost of attendance?

No, The U.S. Department of Education has confirmed that this funding is not considered Estimated Financial Assistance. 

My financial aid award says I received a COVID-19 CARES Act Fund, but I haven’t been given the money yet. When will I receive the award?

You must sign your certification form prior to receiving award. You can find the link to the certification form in the email notification you received when your award was posted.   We are unable to release the funds until the certification is received.  

The certification form must be submitted by July 31, 2020.  

If you require assistance with this process, please contact Financial Aid through the Mason Student Services Center.