Reminder: Students can still apply for CARES Act emergency financial aid

July 28, 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 were enrolled during the spring 2020 semester and incurred qualifying expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic can still apply for emergency financial aid to help defray those costs. 

Students can apply for a grant via the online application. The grants, worth up to $1,000 each, are designed 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. 

The funding is from Penn State’s $55 million allocation under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Half of Penn State’s share of the federal funds, or approximately $27.5 million, is earmarked exclusively for students in the form of emergency financial aid. 

Since May, Penn State has disbursed more than $25.7 million in CARES Act grants to approximately 26,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students across the University via two rounds of funding, with approximately $1.8 million remaining for eligible students. 

Students who have already been awarded a CARES Act grant, 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 the remaining funds. 

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

  • Have completed a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • Meet Title IV federal student aid eligibility requirements.
  • Have been enrolled in and completed the spring 2020 semester.
  • Have attended a physical Penn State campus location during the spring 2020 semester.

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

For more information about the grant process or to apply for the aid, visit For answers to frequently asked questions about the emergency grants, visit Grants will continue to be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all remaining federal dollars are exhausted. Submission of an application serves as affirmation that a student has incurred qualifying expenses resulting from disruptions to campus operations due to COVID-19. Students who are awarded funding will receive notification via their Penn State email account.

Last Updated April 20, 2021