How Do The CARES Act & Financial Aid Work?

With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing many students from working, paying for their education is currently top of mind. Between the CARES Act and traditional financial aid, it can be challenging to know where to turn or what works for you.

The good news is that any money you receive from the CARES Act will not prevent you from getting more financial aid for college. In fact, your loss of income might make it possible for you to get more money. But you have to be smart about it. 

If You’ve Already Filed Your FAFSA®

Many students have already filed their FAFSA® for the 2020-2021 school year. Like nearly 40 million Americans, chances are your financial situation has changed since the tax year that was included in your application. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the aid award you’ve been given. There are still some steps you can take. 

If You Haven’t Already Filed FAFSA®

It’s time to file your FAFSA® now! The deadline for the 20-21 school year is expected to be June 30, 2021 — but the sooner you file, the better your chances are of getting aid.

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Once you file, you can take advantage of additional financial support like the CARES Act and even filing for Aid Appeal to get yourself extra money. Filing the FAFSA® should absolutely be your first step if you’re worried about getting financial aid for college. FRANK can help you through the process for FREE.

CARES Act Emergency Grants

Back in March, Congress allocated about $7 billion for schools to give Emergency Grants directly to students for issues related to COVID-19. To receive the money, students need to ask for the Emergency Grant from their individual school. Each school awards an amount based on its student population and its particular process. However, this money can be a massive help to students who have experienced significant financial struggles over the past few months. You can get help filing for your Emergency Grant with FRANK

In addition to filing an Emergency Grant to help you with any unexpected expenses you incurred due to school shutdowns, you can also apply for Aid Appeal.

Filing for Aid Appeal

Aid Appeal is a process in which you write a letter to your school, letting them know that your financial situation has changed since you filed your FAFSA®. You back this up with supporting documents (such as unemployment claims, paycheck stubs, etc) that showcase how your income has been reduced. 

Aid appeal is generally a simple process that you can do yourself. FRANK also offers a low-fee appeal program in which we help you through the process. 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

If you’re unemployed and a student, there is a chance you could be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. There are a few things to note about this program that could help you when it comes time to pay for your college classes this semester: 

  • College students could tap into $600-$800 a week of unemployment benefits
  • College students could claim unemployment benefits for losing their summer internships, part-time jobs, and work-study opportunities
  • Unemployment benefits are retroactive until January 27, 2020, making it possible for students to claim money for the last four months
  • Applications are accepted by your state of residence — you can find a full list here

For more information on how this benefit works, go here.

These are just a few steps you can take to get more financial aid to help you with your 2020-2021 college semester. However, we encourage you to reach out to your school and see if they’re offering any additional programs or assistance for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you need help understanding how to file for FAFSA® for next year, FRANK can help