CARES ACT Emergency Grant Funds for Students

Important information regarding the CARES Act for students

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19 on March 27, 2020. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Education created guidelines for universities, including Pittsburg State University (PSU) to follow when disbursing the funds. These funds were to provide emergency grants to students with unforeseen emergency expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Eligible expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and childcare.

What students may qualify for CARES Act funds?

  • Degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students who meet eligibility criteria for federal financial aid, including meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Have a completed 2019-20 FAFSA on file at Pittsburg State University
  • Students who were enrolled in at least one on campus course prior to March 13, 2020
  • Incurred expenses directly related to the closure of PSU’s campus after face-to-face classes moved to remote instruction.
  • Complete the application

What students are NOT eligible to receive CARES Act funds?

Per U.S. Department of Education guidelines the following students are not eligible:

  • International and undocumented students.
  • Enrolled in distance-only degree programs; or
  • Enrolled in all online courses before the coronavirus emergency declaration on March 13, 2020

Where are we in the distribution of funds process?

According to Department of Education guidance regarding the CARES Act, universities were directed to identify and prioritize students with the greatest need. PSU recognizes this as students who are from low-middle income families.

PSU recognized Pell-eligible students as the first priority group to make use of these CARES Act funds. If you received a Pell Grant for the Spring 2020 semester and were identified as an eligible recipient, you would have automatically qualified for the emergency grant and did not need to submit an application for consideration All eligible students were notified of this available funding on May 20, 2020, through their PSU email account prior to payment of funds. Full-time students qualified for $800 and part-time (less-than 10 hours) qualified for $400 in funding.

Non pell-eligible students who meet eligibility requirements will need to submit an application to request assistance for CARES Act funds. At this time students may apply for assistance only once.

*NOTE* CARES Act funding cannot be requested to replace lost income or to cover expenses not directly related to campus closure.


  • What kind of expenses qualify for CARES Act emergency grants?
  • How will PSU get my CARES Act funds to me?
  • What if I have an outstanding balance on my student account? Will my funds pay that first?
  • When will I receive my CARES Act funds?

CARES Act funds can be used to assist with food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or child care expenses incurred due to campus closure.

For students who have direct deposit set up these funds will go directly to your bank account. Otherwise, a paper check will be written and mailed to your permanent address. Please make sure upon application that your demographic information is up to date. Students are strongly encouraged to set up direct deposit if they have not done so already.

You can set up direct deposit by logging into your GUS CLASSIC portal. If you need assistance with this process reach out to the Cashiers Office.

No. The full amount of emergency grants will be paid directly to you. PSU will not hold any funds to pay any balance owed.

PSU wants you to receive this financial assistance as quickly as possible. We started reviewing applications after the May 31, 2020, deadline and should be completed by mid-October. You will be notified if whether or not you qualify for funding. After all applications have been reviewed to date, they will continue to be reviewed as they are received.

Additional Information

PSU's acknowledgement

PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY signed and returned to the Department of Education the Certification and Agreement on May 5, 2020. As part of that agreement, PSU fully intends to use no less than 50 percent of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds provided through the CARES Act to directly assist students.

Total funds received for emergency grants to students: $2,659,385.00

Total funds distributed to students

As of 05/20/20, the total amount distributed was $1,149,200.00
As of 06/20/20, the total amount distributed was $1,149,200.00
As of 07/21/20, the total amount distributed was $1,536,000.00
As of 08/21/20, the total amount distributed was $1,536,000.00
As of 09/21/20, the total amount distributed was $1,536,000.00

Estimated total eligible students

Based on the methods the institution has used to determine eligible students, it is estimated that about 3,450 students could benefit from these funds.

Total recipients

As of 05/20/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,467
As of 06/20/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,467
As of 07/21/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,960
As of 08/21/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,960
As of 09/21/20, the total number of students who have received these funds is 1,960

PSU’s methodology

The Department of Education advised institutions that students, while these funds are not Title IV funds, must be eligible for Title IV funds using the basic eligibility criteria outlined in Section 484 of the Higher Education Act. Those criteria are:

  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.
  • Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school.
  • For currently enrolled students, be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans.
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
  • File a FAFSA application that includes a statement of educational purpose.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible noncitizen.
  • Have returned fraudulently obtained Title IV funds if convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges.
  • Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits.
  • Have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently.
  • Have Selective Service registration verified.
  • Have Social Security Number verified.
  • Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.

Moreover, the Secretary of Education and the Department of Education encouraged that institutions prioritize funding for those students with the greatest need. The Department of Education also gave the stipulation that these funds are to be distributed to students who experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus and that funding for this program was calculated to exclude students who were exclusively enrolled in distance education courses.

To comply with these factors and guidance, PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY selected students who were Pell-eligible for 19-20 through the filing of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), ensured that they met the basic eligibility requirements as outlined above, and also ensured that they were enrolled in at least one on-campus course prior to March 13, 2020, when the President of the United States declared a national emergency. This group of students was selected for a block grant which was distributed on May 20, 2020. All other eligible students who do not meet the Pell-eligible criteria but meet all the other criteria are encouraged to apply for remaining funds on a first-come first-serve basis until the funds are exhausted.

PSU’s communication strategies

All PSU students were notified on May 14, 2020, of upcoming announcements regarding the CARES ACT, and on May 15, 2020, regarding application instructions for those who qualify. A link was provided direct to the application. Students were encouraged to reach out to Student Financial Assistance with any additional questions.

Students who are in the second phase of review were asked to complete an application. The priority deadline for the application was May 31, 2020. These applications are currently being reviewed for eligibility and awards are expected to be made to eligible students mid-July, 2020. Applications will be re-opened based on available funding.

Students who completed, met the deadline of May 31, 2020, and qualified for funding through the application process were notified on 07/20/20 of their eligibility. Their funds were disbursed on 07/21/20 through direct deposit to their bank account, or through paper checks.