The University of Maryland is encouraging eligible students facing financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of university operations to apply for assistance through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

UMD received $21 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, just over half of which will be distributed to students with the most financial need. The money was part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, which Congress approved on March 27 to send direct payments to individual Americans and provide aid for small businesses, state and local governments, and educational institutions.

As of Monday, 5,069 Terps had been awarded $5,069,000 using information from the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and another $5 million has been earmarked for students to access through the new UMD CARES Act Emergency Student Financial Aid Grant Application.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our students in so many ways, including financially,” said Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs. “We are grateful for the vital support we’ve received from Congress to provide students with additional resources during this time.”  

To be eligible to apply for a grant, students must be:

  • Currently or previously enrolled in a degree or eligible certificate program for the Spring 2020 semester on or after March 13.
  • Adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic campus interruption and with an emergency need.
  • A U.S. citizen or someone who meets the definition of an eligible non-citizen based on federal financial aid requirements.
  • Qualified under federal financial aid eligibility requirements.
  • Using the funds to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including food, housing, rent, utilities, course materials, technology-related needs, and health or child care.

Students who wish to apply must fill out the application and provide a statement about how the COVID-19 situation and the disruption of campus operations resulted in financial hardship.

The Office of Student Financial Aid will review applications and release decisions via email within seven to 10 business days. Emergency grants will be paid through the student billing process and can be viewed using the student financial aid portal. Applicants are encouraged to sign up for a direct deposit to allow faster access.

Grant awards will vary based on student need and funding availability, and students may apply more than once if needed. The grants will not have to be repaid.

"We created an online application to make the process easier for students to apply for CARES grants," said Dawit Lemma, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid. "Our office, as always, is available to assist students if they have questions or need help completing the application." 

Students who do not meet eligibility criteria may still seek financial assistance for emergency circumstances through the Student Crisis Fund in the Division of Student Affairs. That fund has awarded more than $820,000 to 1,670 students since mid-March.