CARES Act Funds for Students

The U.S. Government has developed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide resources needed to fight COVID-19, including financial assistance for college students affected by the pandemic.

Update: Distribution of CARES Act Funds (8/3/20)

As a signatory to the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students provision of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Occidental College pledged to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

Occidental received $737,337 for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students. During the 2019-20 academic year there were 1,387 Occidental students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. As of June 30, 2020, Occidental distributed $501,767 to 363 Pell recipients and $179,174 to 168 non-Pell recipients, for a total distribution of $680,941.

The College is developing a plan to disburse the balance of $56,396 during the Fall 2020 Semester.

Occidental used the following methods to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive:

  • All of Occidental’s high-need Pell recipients automatically received an $800 credit to their student account no later than May 8, 2020. This amount was based on the national averages for food costs of $345 per month and for wireless Internet service of $55 per month, times two months. Occidental used national averages to calculate this credit as differentiating the cost for students living in different states would unduly slow down the process of getting support where it was needed.
  • All other CARES Student Emergency Grants were based on student applications with a maximum total grant amount of $1,500 (including the automatic $800 grant to high-need Pell recipients). The College provided grants for eligible expenses based on the U.S. Department of Education requirements, including food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. Students were not required to provide documentation for their expenses.

Original Announcement (5/12/20)

Occidental College has signed and submitted the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Occidental intends to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. Occidental expects to receive $737,337 for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

For the 2019-20 academic year there are 1,387 Occidental students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. As of May 13, 2020, Occidental has distributed $285,600 to 357 of its high-need Pell recipients.

Occidental used the following methods to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive:

  • All of Occidental’s high-need Pell recipients automatically received an $800 credit to their student account no later than Friday, May 8. This amount is based on the national averages for food costs of $345 per month and for wireless Internet service of $55 per month, times two months. Occidental used national averages to calculate this credit as differentiating the cost for students living in different states would unduly slow down the process of getting support where it is needed.

  • All Occidental students, including high-need Pell recipients receiving an automatic $800 credit and graduating seniors, can apply for up to $1,500 in emergency funds for expenses related to the disruption of the spring semester by the pandemic. According to the U.S. Department of Education, which has oversight of the distribution of CARES funds to colleges and universities, eligible expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. Students were not required to provide documentation for their expenses. The maximum grant that any one student can receive is $1,500--a limit imposed so that Occidental can support as many students as possible. (For need-based Pell recipients receiving an automatic $800 credit, this means that the maximum additional grant they can receive through the application process will be $700.)

Here are the complete instructions provided to students regarding CARES funding:

In order to alleviate some hardship and provide additional financial support to Oxy students affected by COVID-19, the College has created a Student Emergency Fund using funds from the federal CARES Act as well as generous private gifts from alumni and parents. (The addition of private gifts to the Fund makes it possible for Oxy to provide support to students who are not federally eligible for CARES grants.)

Grants will be distributed in two ways:

  • All of Oxy’s high-need Pell recipients will automatically receive an $800 credit to their student account no later than Friday, May 8. This amount is based on the national averages for food costs of $345 per month and for wireless Internet service of $55 per month, times two months. We used national averages to calculate this credit as differentiating the cost for students living in different states would unduly slow down the process of getting support where it is needed.

  • All Oxy students, including high-need Pell recipients receiving an automatic $800 credit and graduating seniors, can apply for up to $1,500 in emergency funds for expenses related to the disruption of the spring semester by the pandemic. (This is not the same as a change in a student's financial need due to COVID-19, which could be a result of a loss of income rather than new expenses. CARES Act funding covers expenses only.) The U.S. Department of Education, which has oversight of the distribution of CARES funds to colleges and universities, says eligible expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. You do not have to provide documentation for your expenses. The maximum grant that any one student can receive is $1,500--a limit imposed so we can support as many students as possible. (For need-based Pell recipients receiving an automatic $800 credit, this means that the maximum additional grant they can receive through the application process will be $700.)

Because funding is limited (Oxy’s student CARES allocation totals $737,337), some students may not receive the full amount requested. Priority will be given to applications received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13. All applications will be reviewed by a team representing the Business Office, Dean of Students, and the Financial Aid Office and grants will be awarded based on the amount of each request, the student’s level of need, and the funds available. All grant recipients will be notified no later than Wednesday, May 20, and grants will be distributed shortly thereafter as a credit to your student account. If any grant funds remain after grants are made to those who applied by May 13, a second round of grants will be made to students whose applications are received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20.

Since CARES funds are intended for your immediate use, you cannot leave them in your student account and the funds cannot be applied to any outstanding balances on your account. For those students with an active eRefund account, Student Business Services will automatically refund your grant to your bank account. If you do not have an active eRefund account, you will need to create it so that we can refund your grant to your bank account.

We urge students who have experienced unanticipated expenses as a result of the pandemic to submit an application, which is simple and easy to fill out. If you have questions, please contact covidgrants@oxy.edu.