July 6: CARES Act Disclosure

To the Mason Community:

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.

Mason has used, or intends to use, no less than the $10,427,512 that will be received under this program.

The Department of Education has established eligibility requirements for students to receive grants from this program.

We estimate that 19,638 Mason students meet the government’s eligibility requirements. 

Mason has the discretion to determine the amount of each individual emergency financial aid grant provided to Mason students who meet eligibility requirements. To do this, Mason developed a multi-prong approach to the grant disbursements. 

First Round of Proactive Awards

Mason identified students with greater financial need based on existing FAFSA data in our Financial Aid system. Students who fully utilized the financial aid awarded to them from other programs and who meet certain criteria have been offered a CARES Act-funded grant. The awards are subject to the student providing a certification of financial impact related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

On May 8, we notified 4,554 students of award offers totaling $4.6 million. Of these award offers, 4,287 students accepted the offered amounts, completed an online certification of impact, and received payments totaling $4,336,505.


Student Application Process

Mason previously established a Student Emergency Assistance Fund, in which students can apply for grants to cover expenses following the shift in campus operations. Since March 27, 2020 (the date the CARES Act was signed), we have disbursed 1,140 awards totaling $1,050,375 meeting the criteria for CARES Act funding as of July 2, 2020.

The CARES Act funding enables us to extend this program. We continue to accept applications for the Student Emergency Assistance Fund. Awards meeting the government’s eligibility criteria will be funded by the CARES Act funds. Mason has lifted the restriction that students could receive CARES Act funding only once, as many students are experiencing on-going hardships.

Future Awards

Mason is currently working on plans for a second round of proactive awards to students registered for the Summer term who continue to be impacted by the disruption of campus operations.  Notices will be sent to identified students in July and will require certification of impact prior to the disbursement of the award.  In addition, we continue to encourage students still experiencing financial impacts to apply to the Student Emergency Fund described above. We estimate a minimum of $1,700,000 will be offered to an additional 1,600 students who did not receive a proactive award in the first round.


Additional information about Mason’s administration of the CARES Act funding, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available on the university’s Coronavirus information page. All students received the following correspondence regarding the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds:

Dear Patriots,

We hope you are doing well. We write to provide information on the funding that has been allocated to George Mason University from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provides money to institutions to provide emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mason’s total allocation is $10.4 million to support students with significant financial needs. These funds will be dispersed in two ways:

  1. COVID-19 CARES Act awards will be allocated proactively to students with the highest urgency as determined by Financial Aid 
  2. Supplemental funding will be allocated to students who apply through the COVID-19 Student Emergency Assistance Funding process

Per federal guidelines, students are only eligible to receive CARES Act funding through option one OR option two as outlined above.

The eligibility guidelines for the COVID-19 CARES Act awards proactively allocated by Financial Aid are as follows:

  • Students must be Title IV eligible.
  • Students must nothave been enrolled in a fully online program prior to the pandemic.
  • Students must be currently enrolled as a graduate or undergraduate in good Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • Graduate students must have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,576 or less.
  • Undergraduate students must have an EFC of $9,999 or less, with unmet financial need of $1,000 or more.
  • Students must have filed a valid/complete FAFSA.
  • Students must have accepted all the financial aid offered to them.

Students who were given a proactive award from Financial Aid were notified on May 8, 2020. 

If you would like to check whether or not your received one of these awards, please check PatriotWeb. 

Funding recipients are required to acknowledge the financial impact due to COVID-19 before Mason may release any funds. The link to this acknowledgement/certification form was sent in an email from the Financial Aid Office. You can also access the link by logging in to your PatriotWeb portal.

We recommend all students make sure their mailing address is current in PatriotWeb and/or enroll in Direct Deposit to assist us in processing these, or future, funds. 

IF YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR A COVID-19 CARES ACT AWARD OR DID NOT RECEIVE AN AWARD FROM THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE but you still require financial support due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for emergency funding by visiting the COVID-19 Student Emergency Assistance Funding information page and application. CARES ACT funding is just one of the funding sources used to make emergency awards. 

There will be additional opportunities to apply for emergency funding for summer and fall semesters. Information is forthcoming.

We will distribute emergency funding as quickly as possible and we appreciate your willingness to comply with the guidelines noted above. Further clarification is available by reading CARES funding FAQs.

If you have questions about an award that has been posted on your financial aid account, please contact Financial Aid. We will respond as soon as possible. 

If you have questions about the COVID-19 emergency assistance funding process, please contact University Life


David Burge

Vice President for Enrollment Management


Rose Pascarell

Vice President for University Life