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CARES Act Provides Funds to Students Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it was moving “immediately to distribute” $6.28 billion in coronavirus economic stimulus money, earmarked for emergency financial aid grants to college students through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Just this week, after a period of waiting for its application to be processed, Cal State Fullerton received the initial portion of funding provided by the CARES Act — the portion intended to go directly to students as grants and aid. The university now is in the process of reviewing the requirements from the federal Department of Education and the California State University Chancellor’s Office that are tied to this funding.

“Our intent is to disburse the funds directly to students in as direct and simple a manner as possible. The Office of Financial Aid is working tirelessly with Student Business Services to get these monies to students quickly and efficiently so that students will have the financial support that they need,” said Harry Le Grande, vice president for student affairs.

The university is still finalizing the numbers, but anticipate approximately 90% of the funding will be distributed automatically, depending on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Expected Family Contribution (family assets and costs that are expected to be contributed to a student’s education). The university will set aside 10% of the funding to make it available if some students file late for FAFSA or have specific needs for additional resources.

Cal State Fullerton will receive a total allocation of $41,021,512. Of this amount, approximately 50% ($20,510,756) is required to be awarded as emergency financial aid grants to students.

“It is important for students to know that pursuant to the requirements of the federal Department of Education, CARES Act funds may only be distributed to students who have a FAFSA on file,” said Le Grande. “This means that students qualified to receive CARES Act funding excludes any student who has not filed a FAFSA, and specifically exclude DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and undocumented students, as well as international students. As such, we intend to direct these students to the Dean of Students Office and/or the Titan Dreamers Resource Center to access other campus resources.”

Prior to the CARES Act being approved, the university had already issued the following to students:

  • In March, the Office of Financial Aid distributed $8.4 million in additional emergency State University Grant funds to 2,000 students by increasing the maximum Expected Family Contribution dollar value.
  • On April 8, an additional $2,269,365 in SUG funds was distributed to 294 students.
  • In total, 2,294 Titans were positively impacted by the $10.6 million in emergency SUG awards provided in March and April.

“We know students are struggling as a result of this pandemic. It’s stressful and many students have trouble making ends meet, especially if they have become unemployed as a result of business closures, having to move home, or take on additional responsibilities at home such as child care. We certainly don’t want students to fall behind or worse, drop out of school, because of financial pressures,” Le Grande continued. “We’re hopeful that this may alleviate some of the financial pressures our students face.”