CARES Act FAQ

The federal government dedicated a portion of funding in The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide economic relief to college and university students who are impacted by COVID-19.

NIU received $7.4 million in federal funding as part of the CARES Act to help students cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. Of that funding, $5.6 million was distributed during the Spring and Fall 2020 semesters. The remaining funds are being distributed through several initiatives:

  • A technology assistance grant automatically distributed to newly admitted undergraduates for the Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 semester determined by NIU to have the greatest financial need, based on income information provided in the 2020-2021 FAFSA.
  • An academic recovery grant automatically distributed to students who withdrew from one or more face-to-face Spring 2020 courses after March 13, were at least half-time in spring and are re-enrolled for Fall 2020 at least half-time.
  • An extension of the NIU Student Emergency Fund

Please note the Fall 2020 CARES grant funds are limited and issued to students who met the eligibility criteria as of Sept. 24, 2020.

Questions about the Student Emergency Fund? See our FAQ for Student Emergency Fund.

For more information on CARES Act funding, please see the FAQ below.

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NIU CARES Grant

Who is eligible for the NIU CARES grant?Updated

NIU determines eligibility and has issued the following automatic grants to students:

  • A technology assistance grant of $500 for newly admitted undergraduates for the Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 semester determined by NIU to have the greatest financial need, based on income information provided in the 2020-2021 FAFSA. These students did not receive grant funding in the spring and are enrolled in at least 6 hours for Fall 2020 and are Title IV eligible.
  • An academic recovery grant for students who withdrew from one or more face-to-face Spring 2020 courses after March 13, were at least half-time in spring and are re-enrolled for Fall 2020 at least half-time.
  • An $800 grant in Spring 2020 for undergraduate, graduate and law school students who were seeking degrees from the university and were enrolled at NIU at least half time for the spring 2020 term and were determined by NIU to have the greatest financial need, based on income information provided by the 2019-2020 FAFSA.

The US Department of Education has determined that CARES Act funds cannot be distributed to international or undocumented students. Full-time NIU employees, students who withdrew from all classes before March 13, and students who graduated in spring 2020 were also not eligible for an NIU CARES grant.

Please note the Fall 2020 CARES grant funds are limited and issued to students who met the eligibility criteria as of Sept. 24, 2020.

Updated 9/24/20

Why are students receiving a portion of CARES Act funds?

Congress passed the CARES Act to provide financial assistance to students with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. The Secretary of Education encouraged institutions to prioritize students of greatest need and impact.

Added 5/27/20

What criteria did NIU use to determine who is eligible to receive an NIU CARES grant?Updated

NIU used information provided in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 FAFSA to determine greatest need for the portion of CARES Act funds issued as automatic grants during the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters.

In order to be eligible for a technology assistance grant, students must have been newly admitted undergraduates enrolled in at least 6 hours for Fall 2020. These students did not receive a grant in Spring 2020.

Academic recovery grants were given to students who withdrew from one or more face-to-face Spring 2020 courses after March 13, were half-time in spring and are re-enrolled for Fall 2020 at least half-time.

All students awarded grants must have met eligible citizenship requirements outlined by the federal government.

For other funds distributed through the NIU Student Emergency fund, FAFSA information may be considered but will not be a sole criteria in determining eligibility.

Please note the Fall 2020 CARES grant funds are limited and issued to students who met the eligibility criteria as of Sept. 24, 2020.

Updated 9/24/20

How will the university distribute NIU CARES grants?Updated

NIU issued automatic $500 and $800 grants to students determined to have the greatest financial need. Students issued grants in Spring 2020 completed the 2019-2020 FAFSA. Students issued grants in Fall 2020 completed the 2020-2021 FAFSA and met all eligibility requirements. Students did not have to apply for these grants.

Updated 9/23/20

When will NIU CARES grants be disbursed?Updated

The grants are given automatically. The first round of grants were disbursed in Spring 2020. NIU will process the technology assistance and academic recovery grants on Sept. 24, 2020. Students who are enrolled in direct deposit will receive the funds within 2-3 business days. Those who are not will receive a paper check in the mail.

Updated 9/23/20

Why didn’t I receive an NIU CARES grant?

Students who do not meet the eligibility requirements will not receive an NIU CARES grant. If you did not receive a grant but you are experiencing a hardship related to COVID-19, you may be eligible for relief through the university’s Student Emergency Fund.

Updated 5/20/20

Can I appeal the university’s decision if I did not receive an NIU CARES grant?

No. The university issued grants to students who demonstrate the most financial need, based on eligibility requirements, including those set forth by the US Department of Education.

If you applied to graduate but were unable to complete your degree requirements due to COVID19, and you believe you meet all other criteria, you can contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at finaid@niu.edu. 

Updated 5/20/20

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