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 CARES Act funding to help students cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations during the spring 2020 semester.

The university is using this funding to provide automatic grants to students who have the most financial need, based on information provided in the 2019-2020 FAFSA application, and to relaunch the NIU Student Emergency Fund

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.

Search

NIU CARES Grant

Who is eligible for the NIU CARES grant?

Undergraduate, graduate and law school students who are seeking degrees from the university and were enrolled at NIU at least half time for the spring 2020 term may qualify for an NIU CARES grant. NIU will determine eligibility and will issue an automatic $800 grant to students who have completed the 2019-2020 FAFSA and who meet eligibility requirements.

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

Updated 5/20/20

Why are students receiving a portion of CARES Act funds?New

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 FAFSA to determine greatest need for the portion of CARES Act funds issued as automatic grants. In order to be eligible for funds, students must have been actively participating in other than online courses on March 13. And, they 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.

Updated 5/27/20

Why aren’t May 2020 graduates eligible for an NIU Cares grant if they aren’t pursing another degree at NIU?

In March, NIU put mechanisms in place to support all students who were enrolled during the spring 2020 term. NIU provided assistance to more than 3,000 students through the previous emergency fund and issued refunds for housing, dining, and parking. All students who paid general fees received a $25 per credit hour refund. Additionally, all student employees received a stipend for work that would have occurred through the end of the semester.

NIU has received additional funding through the federal CARES Act. The university is using these additional resources to provide eligible undergraduate and graduate students with an NIU CARES grant to ensure they can continue their education and move toward degree completion at NIU. As May 2020 graduates have competed their degrees, they are not eligible to receive these funds. 

Updated 5/20/20

How will the university distribute NIU CARES grants?

NIU will issue an automatic $800 grant to students who have completed the 2019-2020 FAFSA and who meet eligibility requirements. Grants will be issued on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Students do not have to apply for these grants.

Updated 5/20/20

When will NIU CARES grants be disbursed?

NIU will process grants on May 20, 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.

Recent graduates who have been admitted into another degree program at NIU should contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at finaid@niu.edu for additional guidance.

Updated 5/20/20

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

What should I do if my financial situation has changed since I filed my 2019-2020 FAFSA and I believe I would qualify for an automatic NIU CARES grant?

If your family income has decreased or you incurred additional expenses associated with the pandemic, you may apply for assistance through NIU’s Student Emergency Fund. If you will enroll for classes in the 2020-2021 academic year and need to make adjustments to the income information on your FAFSA, contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at finaid@niu.edu

Added 5/18/20

I received an NIU CARES grant. Can I apply for additional assistance from NIU’s Student Emergency Fund? Updated

Yes. All degree-seeking students are eligible to apply for assistance from the NIU Student Emergency Fund (SEF).

Students who have not received any funding from the SEF will be given priority consideration and can begin applying for relief on June 1. Students who have already received some assistance from the SEF can begin applying for additional relief on June 15. Questions? See our FAQ for Student Emergency Fund.

Updated 5/29/20

I didn’t receive an NIU CARES grant. Is the NIU Student Emergency Fund still active for students in need? Updated

Yes. All degree-seeking students are eligible to apply for assistance from the NIU Student Emergency Fund (SEF).

Students who have not received any funding from the SEF will be given priority consideration and can begin applying for relief on June 1. Students who have already received some assistance from the SEF can begin applying for additional relief on June 15. Questions? See our FAQ for Student Emergency Fund.

Updated 5/29/20


CARES Act Report

Still Need Help?

For general concerns or questions, contact the Center for Student Assistance at studentassistance@niu.edu or 815-753-8300.

For technological concerns contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@niu.edu or or 815-753-8100

Back to top of page