CARES Act Emergency Grants for Students

In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Congress passed the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Aid that provides $6.3 billion in direct support to institutions. UNC Asheville was awarded $3.36 million for institutional support and student assistance; half of that amount ($1.68 million) has been designated specifically for CARES Act Emergency Grants for students who are experiencing unexpected expenses or financial hardships that are directly related to changes in campus operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

CARES Act Emergency Grants are intended to cover a student’s expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Food;
  • Housing, such as having to move off campus when residence halls closed;
  • Course materials;
  • Healthcare;
  • Childcare;
  • Technology-related expenses, such as having to purchase a computer when the student’s courses are moved online; and
  • Transportation, such as having to secure a flight to return home because classes were cancelled, residence halls were closed, or having to return from study abroad when the program is cancelled.

A team of University leaders has developed a plan for how this money will be distributed to undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students.  Priority will be given to those students identified as having the highest need based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Additional information is available in the frequently asked questions below:

How can CARES funds be used?

CARES funds are specifically intended to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

Can I apply for CARES Act Emergency Grant to replace lost wages?

No. Lost wages do not constitute actual expenses. UNC Asheville cannot award HEERF funds to replace lost wages of the student or parent.

Am I eligible to apply for a CARES Act Emergency Grant?

Eligible Students:

The estimated total number of UNC Asheville students eligible to participate in programs under section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under section 18004(a)(1) of the Cares Act is 2,248 (of the 3,375 students enrolled in Spring 2020). In particular, this includes:

  • Students enrolled during the Spring 2020 semester;
  • Students who completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process and have a valid form on file.
  • Students eligible for funding under a Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

According to federal guidelines, funding will not be available to distance education students, non-degree seeking students, or international and undocumented students.

If I am an eligible student and I have filed an application for financial aid (FAFSA), how do I apply for a CARES Act Emergency Grant?

PHASE 1: Initial awards are based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculations made for the Spring 2020 semester. The amount of this initial award is based on the following:

  • Students with an EFC greater than $100,000 will not receive funds from this initial award, but can apply for funds in phase 2.
  • $50 will be awarded to students with an EFC greater than $40,000, but less than or equal to $100,000.
  • For students with an EFC less than $40,000, we will award an amount on a sliding scale from $50 to $950 (for students with a zero EFC) in this initial phase.
  • The sliding scale is determined by a formula that gives a fair, almost continuous distribution across all students with an EFC less than $40,000. The formula gives $50 PLUS an additional $10 for every $2000 less of EFC below $40,000 and an additional $10 for every $500 less of EFC below $35,000.

PHASE 2: Awards will be made based on applications. In order to apply, you must:

If I am an eligible student but have not filed an application for financial aid, must I file to be considered for a CARES Act Emergency Grant?

Yes. Eligible students must have filed an application for financial aid.  You can apply for financial aid for at studentaid.gov.

What are the eligibility requirements to receive a CARES Act Emergency Grant?

To be eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under section 18004(a)(1) of the Cares Act students must have been enrolled during the Spring 2020 semester, have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process and have a valid form on file, be eligible for funding under a Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

According to federal guidelines, funding will not be available to distance education students, non-degree seeking students, or international and undocumented students.

UNC Asheville shifted to online and remote instruction for Spring and Summer 2020; does that make me a distance student?

No. You are considered a distance student if your program of study was 100% online prior to March 13, 2020 when the President of the United States declared a national emergency related to COVID-19.

Will this emergency grant affect any of my other financial aid?

No, the CARES Act Emergency Grant will not affect any aid already awarded to you.

If I am an eligible student and have now completed an application for financial aid, can I apply for a CARES Act Emergency Grant now?

PHASE 1: Initial awards are based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculations made for the Spring 2020 semester. The amount of this initial award is based on the following:

  • Students with an EFC greater than $100,000 will not receive funds from this initial award, but can apply for funds in phase 2.
  • $50 will be awarded to students with an EFC greater than $40,000, but less than or equal to $100,000.
  • For students with an EFC less than $40,000, we will award an amount on a sliding scale from $50 to $950 (for students with a zero EFC) in this initial phase.
  • The sliding scale is determined by a formula that gives a fair, almost continuous distribution across all students with an EFC less than $40,000. The formula gives $50 PLUS an additional $10 for every $2000 less of EFC below $40,000 and an additional $10 for every $500 less of EFC below $35,000.

PHASE 2: Awards will be made based on applications. In order to apply, you must:

Will all students be awarded the same?

No, the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education stipulates that universities prioritize students with the greatest need (ie. Pell eligible students). The amount of the emergency grant awarded will vary from student-to-student based on the results of the FAFSA and the specific expenses sustained by the student. There is no guarantee that all applications submitted during Phase 2 will receive funding.

What can these funds be used for?

The purpose of these funds is to assist with expenses attributed to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, such as food, housing, course materials, technology (computer purchase, internet), health care, child care, or transportation (ie. flight costs if studying abroad when program was canceled). The expenses would have been unforeseen costs incurred during the spring 2020.

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 COVID-19.

How will I know the CARES Act Emergency Grant application has been made available to me?

Apply using the CARES Student Emergency Aid Fund Application.

When will UNC Asheville start application reviews for UNC Asheville’s Phase 2 of the CARES Act Emergency Grants?

Initial review will begin by May 22, 2020 and review will be ongoing thereafter.

How long will the application review process take?

The rate of application submissions will affect review processing time, but the preliminary goal is that the review of a complete, submitted application would occur within three to five business days.

How will I know if I have been approved for CARES Act Emergency Grants?

Approved CARES Act Emergency Grants will be posted your student account on oneport.unca.edu.

How will the CARES Act Emergency Grant be distributed to me?

CARES Act Emergency Grants will be deposited into your bank account if you have set up your direct deposit bank information in oneport.unca.edu.  Please verify your bank information and make sure that it is correct.  If no bank information is supplied, the check will be mailed to your home address.  It may take one week to ten days longer to receive your refund if the refund is made by paper check and mailed

If I do not want to apply for financial aid, can I apply for emergency relief funding through UNC Asheville’s Student Emergency Fund?

Yes.  You may still apply for funding at Student Emergency Fund. Please note, funding is limited.

If I am an ineligible student, how can I apply for emergency relief funding?

Yes.  You may still apply for funding at Student Emergency Fund. Please note, funding is limited.