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September 30: CARES Act Disclosure

September 30, 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, 4,296 students accepted the offered amounts, completed an online certification of impact, and received payments totaling $4,344,371. 

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, 1,599 students accepted the offered amounts, completed an online certification of impact, and received payments totaling $1,636,100. 

Third Round of Proactive Awards 

Mason identified students enrolled for Fall 2020 classes with greater financial need based on existing FAFSA data in our Financial Aid system.  Students who had previously received a CARES Act-funded award were not disqualified from receiving a proactive award in this round.  The awards are subject to the student providing a certification of financial impact related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. 

On September 2, 2020, we notified 3,264 students of award offers totaling $2.9 million.  Of these offers, 2,997 students accepted the offered amounts, completed an online certification of impact, and received payments totaling $2,693,800 as of September 30, 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 1,490 awards totaling $1,291,621 meeting the criteria for CARES Act funding as of September 30, 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 

After distribution of the awards described above, Mason estimates remaining uncommitted funding of approximately $200,000.  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.  We anticipate that these remaining funds will be fully distributed by February 28, 2021.

 

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 22July 6, and August 20.