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August 20: CARES Act Disclosure

August 20, 2020   /   by Admissions and Financial Aid

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 were 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, 4,295 students accepted the offered amounts, completed an online certification of impact, and received payments totaling $4,345,005. 

Second Round of Proactive Awards 

Mason identified students enrolled for summer classes with greater financial need based on existing FAFSA data in our Financial Aid system.  Students who had not previously received a CARES Act-funded proactive award in the first round were prioritized.  The awards are subject to the student providing a certification of financial impact related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. 

On July 7, we notified 1,675 students of award offers totaling $1.7 million.  Of these offers, 1,601 students accepted the offered amounts, completed an online certification of impact, and received payments totaling $1,636,850 as of August 17, 2020. 

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 1,205 awards totaling $1,115,190 meeting the criteria for CARES Act funding as of August 17, 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 third round of proactive awards to students registered for the Fall term who continue to be impacted by the disruption of campus operations.  Consistent with prior proactive awards, notices will be sent to identified students 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. Furthermore, the Financial Aid Office is processing appeals to reconsider 2020-2021 financial aid awards due to updated economic circumstances of students and their families as a result of the pandemic.

Additional information about Mason’s administration of the CARES Act funding, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available on the university’s COVID-19 information page. All students received  correspondence in May 2020 regarding the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds as included in our reports on May 22 and July 6.: