Application for second round of CARES Act student emergency grants now open

June 15, 2020

Editor's note: As of December 2020, all CARES Act grant funds have been awarded and this program has ended. In total, Penn State awarded nearly $27.5 million to 27,883 students. Penn State’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund reporting information is available here.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students who incurred qualifying expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for emergency aid in a second round of funding from the University’s share of the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

This follows an initial round of funding where Penn State awarded cash grants up to $1,000 to more than 25,000 students across the institution to help pay for expenses such as course materials, technology, food, housing, health care, child care and transportation resulting from the shift to remote instruction in mid-March. Penn State has been allocated approximately $55 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, and half of that money, or roughly $27.5 million, is reserved for emergency student aid.

Students who did not receive a grant during the first round can apply now by visiting In order to make as wide of an impact as possible with these funds, students who were awarded a grant in Round 1, as well as those who received emergency support for COVID-19 expenses from the University’s Student Emergency Fund, are not eligible to apply for Round 2 funding.

To be eligible for a Round 2 grant, a student also must:

Under federal requirements, students enrolled exclusively in online programs, such as Penn State World Campus, during the spring 2020 semester are not eligible for CARES Act emergency aid. In addition, some students are not eligible to receive Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants under Department of Education guidelines and federal law, including those who do not meet the criteria to receive federal student aid, such as international students.

Grants will continue to be worth up to $1,000, and submission of an application serves as affirmation that a student has incurred qualifying expenses resulting from disruptions to campus operations due to COVID-19. Funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until all remaining federal relief dollars are exhausted. Students who are awarded funding will receive notification via their Penn State email account.

Eligible students at all physical Penn State campuses, including graduate and professional students, who would like to apply for a grant but have not yet submitted a 2019-20 FAFSA can do so at until the June 30 federal deadline. Completing the FAFSA does not guarantee that a student will receive an emergency grant, but it will be a necessary step in the application process to be considered for the aid.

All students who received a CARES Act emergency financial aid grant during the first round of funding have been notified of their award via their Penn State email address. As a reminder, Round 1 grant recipients have until 5 p.m. Eastern time on June 30, 2020, to accept or decline their funding. Students who are unsure if they received a Round 1 grant, as well as those who have not yet acted on their award notification, are encouraged to check their LionPATH account and, if applicable, complete their CARES Act Student Activity Guide to accept or decline the award. All unclaimed funds after June 30 will be awarded to other eligible students.

Those students who do not meet eligibility requirements for a Round 2 grant but who are experiencing personal or financial hardships due to COVID-19 are encouraged to explore the resources provided by the Office of Student Care and Advocacy. In addition, Complete Penn State provides resources such as scholarship assistance for students who are within one or two semesters of completing their first associate or bachelor's degree and experience a situation that negatively impacts their ability to complete their degree. Complete Penn State is available to students at all Penn State campuses, including World Campus, and to both domestic and international students.

For more information on the Round 2 grant process and to apply for aid, visit For answers to frequently asked questions about the emergency grants, visit

Last Updated April 20, 2021