Tracking Codes

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Emergency Funds

The federal CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provided money to colleges and universities for institutional support as well as student support. The purpose of the money is to support both KU as well as our students for specific expenses that are a direct result of the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus.  

The University of Kansas received $15,189,644 under section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. Per federal guidance the funds are to be split 50% towards institutional support and 50% student support.

For the $7,594,822 in funds dedicated to institutional support, KU has developed a spending plan that includes partial reimbursement to Housing auxiliary for room & board refunds issued in Spring '20 as a result of the campus being closed for COVID, additional support for on-campus student isolation housing needs, investments in technology to assist faculty, staff and students, as well as additional student support to meet student needs that were greater than the federal funds received for student support.

Details of KU’s CARES Act 18004(a)(1) Institutional Support spend through March 31, 2021:

For the $7,594,822 in funds dedicated to student support, KU is distributing the entirety as emergency financial grants to students in a way that prioritizes students with the greatest demonstrated need while ensuring the funds are distributed as widely as possible. 

The total amount was split among KU’s campuses, with $6,789,086 earmarked for Lawrence and Edwards campus students, and $805,737 for KU Medical Center students. KU estimates 21,191 students across all campuses are eligible to apply for CARES Act funding.

As of March 31, 2021, KU has disbursed $8,235,018 to 6,350 students at the Lawrence, Edwards and Medical Center campuses. As noted above, KU has also allocated a portion of its institutional support share of CARES funding to further assist students. The split between funding sources is $7,594,822 (student support) and $640,196 (institutional support).

Students were advised by email of their awards and that the money was distributed to them via direct deposit if direct deposit was enabled in their student account, or via paper check if direct deposit was not enabled.

What expenses can be considered for CARES Act Emergency funding?

The following is a list of expenses that can be considered for CARES Act Emergency grant assistance if they were incurred in "direct relation to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus."

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Course materials
  • Health care
  • Childcare
  • Technology-related expenses (such as having to buy a computer when courses were moved online)
  • Transportation (such as having to fly home because classes were canceled or having to return from study abroad when the program was canceled)

The CARES Act stipulates that the emergency funds cannot be used to replace a loss of income or to pay for student expenses that are not directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who is eligible for CARES Act Emergency funding? 

The US Department of Education states only undergraduate and graduate students who are Title IV eligible can be awarded CARES Act Emergency funds. This means students must have a FAFSA on file with KU, or be eligible to file one. Additional recent federal guidance further clarified who may receive CARES Act Emergency funds. Unfortunately, the US Department of Education does not allow CARES Act Emergency funds to be used for international, DACA, or undocumented students or for any student who was exclusively taking online courses prior to March 13, 2020. KU has set aside a limited amount of institutional funds for undergraduate and graduate students who are not eligible for CARES Act funding. 

Do I have to file a FAFSA to receive CARES Act Emergency funds? 

No. An undergraduate student or graduate student only needs to be eligible to file a FAFSA or already have a FAFSA on file with KU.

How is KU distributing the funds?

KU has created separate funding pools for graduate students and undergraduate students to ensure we prioritize students with greatest need from both categories, which is in keeping with US Department of Education requirements. Funds have been allocated to each pool proportionately based on the eligible headcount for undergraduates and for graduates.

I am an undergraduate student with need who is eligilbe for CARES Emergency Act funding.  What do I do? 

CARES Act Emergency funding for eligible undergraduate students will be distributed in two ways:

  • Direct awards will be given to students receiving Pell Grants who the federal government defines as having exceptional need. The university will communicate directly to Pell recipients about their award through their KU email account. Pell Grant recipients do not need to submit an application to receive their CARES Act Emergency funds.
  • Remaining CARES Act Emergency funds will be set aside for eligible undergraduate students to access through the university’s existing Emergency Aid Network. Students in this group should have filed a FAFSA or be eligible to file a FAFSA. Please complete the online Emergency Aid application. The application for Spring 2020 funding closes June 5th. 

I am a graduate student with need who is eligible for CARES Act Emergency funding.  What do I do? 

Recognizing many eligible graduate students in need do not have a FAFSA on file, graduate students will be able to apply for CARES Act Emergency funds through KU’s Emergency Aid Network online applicationThe application for Spring 2020 funding closes June 5th. 

What can I do if I am not eligible for CARES Act Emergency funding, but have need?

KU recognizes that the need for student support extends beyond what is allowed through the federal CARES Act and has set aside a limited amount of institutional funds to support international, undocumented, and DACA undergraduate and graduate students as well as any student who was exclusively taking spring semester online courses prior to March 13, 2020. These institutional funds are currently available through KU’s Emergency Aid Network application process. The application for Spring 2020 funding closes June 5th. 

How much will I receive?

Schools received a limited amount of CARES Act Emergency funds and KU has also sent aside a limited amout of institutional funds for those who do not qualify for CARES Act Emergency funding. 

For students applying for any emergency aid, grant amounts will be determined based on the number of applications received and the specific needs presented in the application. KU cannot guarantee that all applications submitted will be funded.

When will we know the results?

KU has signed and returned to the US Department of Education the Certification and Agreement form and is awaiting receipt of the funds. Our goal is to award the emergency funds as soon as possible, but we do not expect to receive the CARES Act Emergency funds until May 8th at the earliest. (Update: The funds were received on May 18th.)

How do students receive the money?

All emergency grants will be processed through student accounts. Emergency grants will be directly deposited into bank accounts for students who are enrolled in direct deposit. Students without direct deposit will receive a refund check in the mail.

What if I owe KU for tuition or other expenses?

The full amount of the emergency grants will be given directly to the student, and KU will not hold the funds to pay any outstanding balance owed.

Will CARES Act Emergency funds impact current or future financial aid?

No. This funding is not financial aid, it is an emergency relief funding from Congress.

Are CARES Act Emergency funds taxable?

The Internal Revenue Service has released a FAQ which indicates the funds are not taxable since they are "qualified distaster relieff payments."   Please visit the FAQ for additional tax guidance. 

Message of Support

“The hardships presented by this global crisis continue to be felt deeply by our students, their families and many others in the University of Kansas community. The federal assistance through the CARES Act enables us to help address those hardships across our community, with an emphasis on students and families who are in financial distress. As we continue to navigate this pandemic, the wellbeing of our students will continue to be a priority for us.”

Douglas A. Girod

Barbara Bichelmeyer
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor