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CARES Act - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides economic relief to students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to Coronavirus (expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

Salem State University will provide this economic relief money directly to our students. Salem State University has signed and returned the Certification Agreement on 04/21/2020. You can also review the initial 30-day Fund Report mandated by the US Department of Education for institutions receiving funds through the CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

Who is eligible to receive these funds?

Based on guidance provided by the Department of Education, Salem State University determined that students must meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for CARES Act funds:

  1. Be a degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in 1 or more credit hours for the Spring 2020 semester as of March 13, 2020 when the national emergency was declared.
  2. Be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. (e.g., be eligible to receive federal financial aid funds such as the Pell Grant, Direct Loans, etc.).
  3. Have submitted a FAFSA for 2019-20
  4. Have no outstanding items requested by Salem State University that are required to determine eligibility
  5. Have received a federal financial aid award that was disbursed for the Spring 2020 semester
  6. Have incurred eligible expenses related to COVID-19

Why did I receive this money?

The US Department of Education made CARES Act funds available to students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Salem State University identified eligible students that experienced disruptions and provided an emergency relief grant with individual amounts based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the student’s 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

I received this as a refund. Does this mean my Salem State University account balance is paid off?

No. Distribution of CARES Act funds goes directly to students and will not be applied toward any outstanding balances that may still be owed. The money will be recorded initially in the student account and then the amount will be distributed in full, directly to students, via a check or EFT payment (direct deposit). Receipt of CARES Act emergency relief grant does not indicate the student has satisfied their financial obligations to Salem State for any debts incurred during the spring 2020 term or any term past, present, or future.

Do I have to pay this back?

No. Funds received by a student from the CARES Act is a grant and will not need to be repaid.

How was the amount I received for the CARES Act grant determined?

Individual amounts were based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the student’s 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) according to the following EFC levels: 

EFC Level Award Amount
Between $0 to $10,000 $750
Between $10,001 to $20,000 $500
Greater than $20,000 $150

Can I use this money to pay toward my Salem State University balance?

Yes. Once the funds are received, students may choose to use the funds to make a payment toward their outstanding account balance through their Salem State Navigator account.

Can Salem State just apply my CARES Act funds to my student account for me?

No. Federal regulations requires Salem State University to disburse all CARES Act funds directly to the student and prohibits the university from applying it toward outstanding balances.

I’m an international student or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) student. Am I eligible for CARES Act funds?

No. Guidance issued by the US Department of Education indicates that students must be Title IV eligible to qualify for the CARES Act funds. This limits eligibility to U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, or other Title IV eligible non-citizens. Students not eligible for funding under the CARES Act may apply for institutional emergency funds.

I received the CARES Act grant, but my expenses are more than the amount that I received. Can I apply for more funding?

Yes. An application is being developed and will be made available for eligible students to receive additional CARES Act funds for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Additional information will be made available by email and on the university website on June 4.

I did not receive a CARES Act grant and I believe I should have. What should I do?

Students should confirm by logging into Navigator and reviewing their spring 2020 account activity for an item called “CARES Act Grant- Student”. Funds were sent either via paper check or through direct deposit. Please allow time for bank and postal processing. If you do not see “CARES Act Grant- Student” then refer to the eligibility guidelines for Cares Act grants above.


For additional questions please contact the Student Navigation Center