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October 8, 2020

U of C. Announces Second Round of CARES Act Grants


Levi Hall

Miles Burton / The Chicago Maroon

Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen announced that the University will again disburse funding from the CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to university students “with the greatest financial need who have been negatively impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic,” in an email on Monday morning. The CARES Act is the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in response to COVID-19.

Title IV-eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students are eligible to apply for HEERF aid through the my.UChicago portal until 11:59 pm on October 31, according to the email.

The new program appears to broaden the pool of students who can receive support from the CARES funding by allowing students to submit a FAFSA by October 16 to show their eligibility under Title IV.

In an email to The Maroon, University spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan said, “the University is providing those students who don’t normally file FAFSAs with an opportunity to do so. Filing the FAFSA helps demonstrate Title IV eligibility, which is a requirement to apply for HEERF funding.”

In June, when the University announced the first round of CARES Act grants, some graduate students raised concerns that the requirement that students have a Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) on file by mid-May would exclude graduate students—many of whom do not file FAFSAs because they do not receive financial aid—from eligibility.

“While the FAFSA requirement we had concerns about in the first round is in a sense rectified by the October 16 deadline, we remain concerned about a vastly oversimplified metric for need,” Graduate Students United said in a statement to The Maroon.

The University announced in June that it would allocate all of $6.2 million it was awarded in CARES money to financial aid. The Department of Education required that at least half of the allocation be spent on financial aid. Several other universities, including Harvard and Princeton, declined to accept CARES Act funding.

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