Cal U begins distributing federal CARES Act funding to eligible students this week

Federal guidelines specify who is permitted to receive these funds


Jeff Helsel

The 12-foot-tall statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and California University of Pennsylvania’s mascot, in the Quad at the center of campus, April 27, 2020.

Cal U

A message to all Cal U students from Geraldine. M. Jones, president, California University of Pennsylvania, May 4, 2020:

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which provided an economic “stimulus check” to many American families, also includes funds to assist college students impacted by the abrupt shift to online education because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colleges and universities received CARES Act funding based on a formula outlined in the legislation, which also details how universities are permitted to use the funding.

Cal U received about $2.1 million to provide emergency financial assistance directly to eligible students who were enrolled in on-campus programs “for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.”

The University has set aside a small portion of the funding to assist students with extraordinary needs as they prepare for the fall semester. Applications for emergency grant funds will be available in late August.

The remainder of the funds will be divided equally and distributed as direct financial assistance to those students who are eligible under the CARES Act guidelines. Those payments will be sent to eligible students starting this week.

Who is eligible for CARES Act funding?

Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education allow Cal U to distribute CARES Act funds as direct emergency aid to domestic undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled in on-campus degree programs during the spring semester, and who have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file. This includes full-time and part-time degree-seeking students with a permanent U.S. address, whether they were living in on-campus residence halls, living at Vulcan Village or another off-campus location, or commuting to Cal U for face-to-face classes this spring.

Under the federal guidelines, students are NOT eligible for CARES Act funding if they were enrolled in a 100% online program as of March 13, 2020, when the pandemic was declared a national emergency, or if they do not have a FAFSA on file. International students and students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), High School Early Admission (HSEA) and 60+ CAP programs also are not eligible to receive these funds.

How and when will my relief funds arrive?

Cal U expects to disburse this aid beginning May 6, 2020. If you have direct deposit set up with Student Accounts, this money will be deposited to your bank account; it will NOT be used to reduce any balance you may owe to the University. If you do not have direct deposit, you will receive a check by mail at your permanent address. You can sign up for direct deposit on VIP; look under the “Billing” tab for details.

Need more help?

All students, including those enrolled in Global Online programs, should contact the Financial Aid Office ([email protected]) if medical expenses, job loss or other effects of the pandemic have made a significant change in your family’s income. Financial Aid staff can advise you about updating your FAFSA to ask for an adjustment in your financial aid.

The current public health crisis has changed all of our lives, and I appreciate the sacrifices you are making to keep yourselves, your families and your communities safe. Please remember that Cal U is here to help. For more information about student services, look for the Coronavirus: FAQ for Students on our homepage,


With warmest wishes,

Geraldine M. Jones
University President

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