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May 23, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed on March 27, 2020, to address unmet financial and health needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Among its provisions, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) awarded funds to institutions of higher education to address costs and financial needs arising from the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Each institution must use no less than 50 percent of funds received under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act to provide direct, emergency financial aid grants to students.

The University of Central Florida completed and returned the Certification and Agreement Form for the CARES Act funding for student emergency grant relief on April 11, 2020. UCF acknowledges and certifies that no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act will be used to provide emergency financial aid grants to students.

UCF’s CARES Act allocation for student emergency financial aid grants totaled $25,535,625. An online application period opened on April 29, 2020, and closed on May 19, 2020. No awards have been made to date.

Application period APRIL 29 – MAY 19, 2020
Applications Received 21,669
Number of Awards as of May 23, 2020 0
Estimated Number of Eligible Students 56,769
Maximum Grant Award – Pell Eligible $950
Maximum Grant Award – Non-Pell Eligible $900
   

First, the university assessed eligibility for CARES Act emergency grant funding. Specifically:

  • 2019-2020 FAFSA on file or eligible to complete a 2019-2020 FAFSA (students encouraged to complete a FAFSA)
  • Degree seeking and enrolled in Spring 2020 classes
  • Not enrolled in an exclusively online program
  • Not an international or undocumented student

The University established as an initial and tentative allocation that up to 75 percent of the available funding would be used for grants to Pell-eligible students (an estimated 20,033 students), with the balance to non-Pell-eligible students. UCF set initial maximum award levels of $950 (Pell-eligible) and $900 (non-Pell-eligible). The application asked students to explain how the disruption of moving to online learning due to COVID-19 impacted their academic performance and created financial needs. Students were asked to request funding in different areas (housing, food insecurity, utilities, etc.) for which they were experiencing financial impacts caused by COVID-19.

A full review of applications and their reported expenses will be conducted. The number of applications, reported expenses and known economic need will determine the amount of funds each student receives. Awards will be posted and distributed directly to students via direct deposit or paper check. Students will be notified via their official UCF email accounts.

UCF expects to begin making awards to students within two weeks of this initial report. If funds remain after this initial application cycle, the university will set dates for a second application cycle.

UCF opened an online application process for students to apply for CARES Act Emergency Aid grants. All students were notified of the program and the online application via an email that included a link to the online application. Additionally, students were sent a text message on May 8, 2020. A follow-up text message was sent on May 15, 2020.

The instructions informed students of eligibility requirements for receipt of CARES Act emergency aid grants, including financial aid eligibility. UCF expressed a desire to have students submit a FAFSA if they had not already done so.  Students were provided information and instructions here.