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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. These grants are not meant to offset loss of income, student or family job loss, or pay for other family expenses. The goal of these funds is to provide financial assistance to a wide range of students in a timely manner in order for them to maintain access to education.

   Students who receive these funds must meet the eligibility criteria in Section 484 of the Title IV Higher Educational Act. This includes, but is not limited to, the demonstration of the following: be making satisfactory academic progress, not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans; not be in default on a Title IV loan; file "as part of the original financial aid application process" a certification that includes statement of educational purpose and a valid Social Security Number, be a US citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible noncitizen, have returned fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits; have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently; have Selective Service registration verified (if student is a male); not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time restrictions. While this does not specify that students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the only way to determine if a student meets Section 484 requirements is for a FAFSA to be filed. 

Key Facts

The University was awarded $9.8 million in CARES Act Funds by the US Department of Education for the sole and exclusive purpose of providing emergency financial aid to students.

As of 11/12/2020: 

Total CARES Act funds awarded to SBU: $9,855,357

Total CARES Act funds received by SBU: $9,855,357

Total CARES Act funds disbursed to students: $9,855,357

Number Federal Title IV eligible students: 13,697

Number of Stony Brook students offered a  CARES Act Emergency Aid Refund grant:  8,639

Historical Reporting Data


Grant Distribution 


 Grants will be disbursed to student accounts resulting in the issuance of a payment directly to the student. The University will initiate payment to the student by direct deposit to the bank account on file or by check mailed to the student’s permanent address of record. Students who do not have direct deposit may experience a delay in receiving their payment. Those who wish to sign up for direct deposit should do so immediately by clicking on the Enroll in Direct Deposit  link under the Campus Financial Services section in SOLAR. 


The University will be utilizing a three phase approach to provide substantial awards amount our  neediest students, while also providing emergency aid to students with higher Expected Family Contributions (EFC). 

Phase One:

 To qualify for a block grant, students have to meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in at least six credits ( on-campus/in-person undergraduate, graduate, or study abroad program) during the Spring 2020 semester on or after March 13, 2020
  • Matriculated in an eligible undergraduate or graduate academic program as of March 13, 2020
  • Have a valid 19/20 FAFSA on file
  • Meet   federal eligibility requirements 
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) less than 5,577
  • Student must certify that they have already incurred, or will incur, allowable expenses that are related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19

If all conditions listed above are met, awards will be offered as follows:
1. $800 base award to students.
2. $150 award to students who moved out of Residence Halls on or after March 13, 2020.
3. $500 to students on a study abroad trip, recalled due to COVID-19.  

The grant will appear on students SOLAR accounts as "CARES Act Emergency Aid Refund". 

Approximately 7,500 students have been identified from his cohort, with an estimated distribution of $6.2 million refunded directly to students.

Phase Two:

Stony Brook has initiated a FAFSA completion campaign for undergraduate and graduate students. Students will be notified via email that they need to file a 19/20 FAFSA by June 1, 2020. A calculation will be made to determine the remaining funds as a result of Phase One spending and the Phase Two eligibility expansion. 

Phase Two will expand the eligibility pool for a base award ($800) to students with a higher EFC level (15,000). This metric will be applied to undergraduate and graduate students. 

It is estimated that this will impact 2,000 students with a distribution of $1 million refunded directly to students. 

Phase Three: 

  Students who meet federal eligibility requirements and are experiencing an expense related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 (including eligible expenses under a student's cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care) will be eligible to complete a CARES Act Emergency Grant Application.  

  • Awards will be available on a first come, first served basis
  • Students must request a dollar amount and classify their expenses
  • Award caps will be determined based upon remaining funds after Phase One and Two
  • Funds will be awarded through the application up until August 31, 2020
  • Any remaining funds will be distributed via block grants 

 CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions

View a complete listing of HEERF Reports