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Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Emergency Funds FAQ

What is the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?

The federal CARES Act provided money to colleges and universities for emergency grants to students. The grants were for specific expenses that were a direct result of the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The emergency grants could not be used to replace a loss of income or to pay for student expenses that were not directly related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who was eligible to receive a CARES Act grant?

In order to be considered for a grant award, students must have:

  • Been enrolled in the semester for which the student is requesting aid
  • Been a degree-seeking student – either undergraduate or graduate
  • Been eligible to receive Title IV aid; see the CARES Act Student grants FAQs, question #9
  • Submitted or have been eligible to submit a 2020-2021 FAFSA
Who was not eligible?

Unfortunately not all students qualified for grant consideration. Since these are federal funds, international students and undocumented students were ineligible.

What could the grants be used for?

Expenses that were incurred in direct relation to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically:

  • Living expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, medical insurance, or utility payments; food
  • Technology related expenses such as computer, laptop, tablet, software, accessories (e.g. router, internet booster, webcam, microphone)
  • Course materials such as art supplies, media, or other supplies
  • Healthcare, dependent care, or childcare as a result of losing a job
What was the maximum grant amount?

The maximum grant a student could receive in the first round was $1,200 and in the second round was $1,050.

How were grant amounts determined?

Grants were made in two rounds, one in the spring of 2020 and a second in the fall of 2020.  The Office of Financial Aid took into consideration a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined from the 2019-2020 FAFSA, and used a tiered approach to guide award amounts.

EFC Maximum CARES Act Student Grant, Round 1
0 to 7,500 $1,200
7,501 to 15,000 $1,100
15,001 to 30,000 $1,000
30,001 and above $750


EFC CARES Act Student Grant Range, Round 2
0  to 7,500 $750 – $1,050
7,501  to 15,000 $650 – $950
15,001  to 30,000 $550 – $850
30,001 and above $500 – $800

The Office of Financial Aid used the following rubric as a guide in calculating awards:

Need Dependent Student / Independent Student (1) Independent Student (2+)
Housing up to $700 up to $900
Food up to $200 up to $300
Tech / Materials up to $350 up to $350
Child Care* $0 up to $500
Health Care up to $200 up to $200

*The student must have dependent(s) listed on FAFSA or provide documentation of dependent(s).

The Office of Financial Aid will took into consideration any special circumstances described on the application form.  Students who were graduating had precedence.  We could not guarantee that all applicants would receive funding.  Funds were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds were depleted.

How do I apply for a CARES Act Emergency Grant?

Students were able to file an electronic application here.

What was the deadline to apply?

The application period for the second round was open from September 30, 2020 through midnight on October 15, 2020.  This was the last round of funding. 

How were students notified if they had been approved for a grant?

Students were notified via their Ramapo email of approval or denial within 30 days of submitting an application.  This email included further instructions.

If an application was approved, when did students receive their grants?

Students were refunded via a previously selected refund method within 30 days of approval.

How will grants be disbursed?

Awards were made on a first-come, first served basis.  Awards will be paid directly to students either through an electronic refund or check.  To receive a refund faster, students were strongly encouraged to sign up for an electronic refund at

What if a recipient had a balance with Ramapo College?

Ramapo College did apply CARES Act grants toward any unpaid balance.  Recipients were encouraged to check Self Service for up-to-date information on their accounts, and were informed that the CARES Act grant would be refunded to them, even if they had a balance.

What if students needed more than what was awarded to them?

Students were advised to contact the Office of Financial Aid at for a possible special circumstance review.  Students were encouraged to apply for emergency relief through the We Care COVID-19 program.

Who can I contact with more questions about the CARES Act grants?