CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided emergency funds to colleges and universities, including Rhode Island College, to directly support students whose lives and educations were disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This federal funding was designed to support students with the greatest need. The COVID-19 pandemic caused considerable disruptions and presented unparalleled challenges for many students and their families.

The amount of federal funding Rhode Island College received is largely based on the number of full-time students who are eligible for Pell Grants and federal scholarships for low-income students. In total, Rhode Island College received approximately $3.7 million to provide students as emergency financial aid grants as part of the CARES Act. These emergency financial aid grants provided emergency support for eligible expenses that include costs associated with attendance such as tuition and fees; as well as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare.

The distribution of these funds was based on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and a Task Force established by the College, with priority given to students who demonstrate significant financial need.

RIC CARES Act FAQs

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 provided 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.

RIC applied for funding from the federal CARES Act and received access from the U.S. Department of Education. RIC began distributing the CARES Act funds to students based on their financial need. Recipients were notified via a message to their RIC email account.

The CARES Act directed colleges and universities to prioritize students with the greatest financial need. As a result, Rhode Island College established the RIC CARES Act Fund. These CARES Act emergency aid funds provided financial relief to students based on the family income reported on the FAFSA. These funds helped students pay expenses for technology, health care, child care, course materials, housing, moving or other expenses related to the pandemic. If you did not experience financial stress due to COVID-19, these funds could assist with unanticipated expenses or income loss that may have occurred.

Initially, students who met basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid and who have the greatest financial need could be considered for these funds. Funds were awarded to students that met all of the following criteria:

  • RIC received an official 2019-2020 FAFSA form
  • Enrolled degree seeking student for Spring 2020
  • Not enrolled exclusively in an online program for the entire Spring 2020 semester
  • Met Title IV Federal Financial Aid eligibility requirements.
  • Maintaining the minimum requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Recipient of a Pell Grant or eligible for a Pell Grant for the Spring 2020 semester

Under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, students who are not eligible for federal financial aid programs are not eligible for federal CARES funds. However, Rhode Island College may have been able to help you with emergency aid from other institutional or private donations, or from the Rhode Island College Foundation. These funds are limited, but we encourage students to apply.

Initially, you may not have appeared to meet the criteria of greatest financial need. However, we know that many families’ income is in flux or there may be additional expenses associated due to the pandemic.

If you are eligible for federal aid, but did not receive an immediate RIC CARES Act Fund described above, you could request RIC CARES Act funding. Many students completed the Emergency Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Request Form to help with immediate needs, and consider filing a request for change in income or expenses for other financial aid funds for longer term and future needs. You can find more information about changing your financial aid information here.

While the U.S. Department of Education did not allow CARES funding to provide grants to undocumented students, RIC is committed to supporting all students who need emergency assistance. DACA and undocumented students are encouraged to request funding from the Emergency Response Fund established by The Rhode Island College Foundation, the college’s philanthropic partner. The Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund is designed to support students facing unforeseen financial circumstances as a result of this global crisis. To request assistance, please complete the Student Emergency Funds Request Form.

In addition, the Rhode Island Student Success Application (RISSA) was established to exclusively support DACA and undocumented student.   If you have not filed the RISSA form for 2021-22 and you need assistance, please apply at http://www.casori.org/FinancialAidforUndocumentedStudents.html.

Unfortunately, under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, international students were not eligible for the federal CARES funds. International students who need emergency aid assistance are encouraged to request funding from the Emergency Response Fund established by The Rhode Island College Foundation, the college’s philanthropic partner.  The Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund is designed to support students facing unforeseen financial circumstances as a result of this global crisis.  To request assistance, please complete the Student Emergency Funds Request Form.

RIC's CARES Act funds were concentrated on the 2020-2021 academic year.

No. CARES Act funding will not count towards Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA) and will not affect future financial aid eligibility.

No. Per the Internal Revenue Service, the grant will not be included in your taxable income. Please visit the official IRS website for details.

CARES Act funds must be used for expenses 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, healthcare and childcare.