Student Emergency Grants

Background

Sonoma State received a grant award notification from the U.S. Department of Education in May 2021 for an award related to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds III (HEERF III) under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of $24,559,229. These funds will be used to assist with the financial impact of the pandemic on the University and its students. As part of the grant allocation, $12,274,982 will go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants to help with expenses related to COVID-19, including increased costs for housing, food, course materials, technology, health care and childcare.

ARPA Funds Eligibility

Sonoma State undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who were enrolled in Spring 2021 as of May 20th and have an official Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Application will be receiving an automatic grant of $2,325.

This is intended to provide immediate, meaningful assistance to students who already had a significant documented financial need and whose needs have grown during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who receive an automatic grant will be notified through their University email accounts. No additional action is required.

International and undocumented students who have not completed a California Dream Act Application (CADAA) will be contacted by either the Global Engagement Office or the Dream Center about an application process for emergency grants. These grants will be based on an assessment of student expenses associated with the disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

Sonoma State received a grant award notification from the U.S. Department of Education in January 2021 for an award related to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds II (HEERF II) under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of $13,980,795. These funds will be used to assist with the financial impact of the pandemic on the University and its students. As part of the grant allocation, $4,546,724, will go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants to help with expenses related to COVID-19, including increased costs for housing, food, course materials, technology, health care and childcare.

Funding Methodology

Following guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and CSU Chancellor’s Office, Sonoma State established three operational principles to guide the distribution of these grants:

  • Student success
    To help alleviate financial distress students are experiencing due to COVID-19.
  • Equity
    All students have experienced some type of impact due to COVID-19, but those impacts have been uneven, with greater negative impacts on students from historically underserved communities. Students should receive different levels of grant aid proportional to their financial circumstances.
  • Timeliness and administrative simplicity
    Ensure access for the greatest number of eligible students possible to receive emergency aid as needed, with minimal administrative processes.

With these principles as our guide, we developed a process to allocate the CARES Act to students as quickly as possible, prioritizing students with the greatest financial need.

CRRSAA Funds Eligibility - CLOSED

Sonoma State undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who were enrolled in Spring 2021 as of February 23rd and are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of less than $5,712 as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be receiving an automatic grant. The amount of the award is determined by each student’s 2020/21 EFC and number of units enrolled as outlined in the table below.

Automatic Grant Amounts, Based on Family Contribution
and Current Number of Enrolled Units
Expected Family Contribution 12 or more units 9-11 units 6-8 units 1-5 units
0 $2,350 $1762.50 $1,175 $587.50
1 - 2,000 $1925 $1,443.75 $962.50 $481.25
2,001 - 4,000 $1,200 $900 $600 $300
4,001 - 5,711 $525 $393.75 $262.50 $131.25

 

This is intended to provide immediate, meaningful assistance to students who already had a significant documented financial need and whose needs have grown during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who receive an automatic grant will be notified through their University email accounts. No additional action is required.

CSU CARES

Students who don’t qualify for federal financial aid may qualify for an automatic grant under the CSU CARES program based on their California Dream Application. Those students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of less than $5,712 as determined by the California Dream Application will be receiving an automatic grant using the same criteria as the CRRSAA grants noted above. The amount of the award is determined by each student’s 2020/21 EFC and number of units enrolled as outlined in the table below.

Automatic Grant Amounts, Based on Family Contribution and Current Number of Enrolled Units
Expected Family Contribution 12 or more units 9-11 units 6-8 units 1-5 units
0 $2,350 $1,763 $1,175 $588
1 - 2,000 $1,925 $1,444 $963 $481
2,001 - 4,000 $1,200 $900 $600 $300
4,00 - 5,711 $525 $394 $263 $131

Students who receive an automatic grant will be notified through their University email accounts. No additional action is required.

Other Student Grants

The University received a gift from the Associated Students to award grants to students who didn’t qualify for the CRRSAA or CSU CARES emergency grant programs discussed above.

Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) between $5,712 and $10,000 as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) will be receiving an automatic grant. The amount of the award is determined by the number of units the student is enrolled in as outlined in the table below.

Automatic Grant Amounts, Based on Enrollment
Current Number of Enrolled Units Award Amount
1 - 5 $125
6 - 8 $250
9 - 11 $375
12 or more $500

Students who have received aid up to their Cost of Attendance or financial need may have a loan reduced in lieu of a refund.

This is intended to provide immediate, meaningful assistance to students who already had a documented financial need and whose needs have grown during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who receive an automatic grant will be notified through their University email accounts. No additional action is required.

International and undocumented students that have not completed a California Dream Act Application (CADAA) will be contacted by either the Global Engagement Office or the Dream Center about an application process for emergency grants. These grants will be based on an assessment of student expenses associated with the disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spring 2020 Student Emergency Grants - CLOSED

As of June 12, 2020 all of the awarding phases for the federal CARES act have closed. Sonoma State was able to award $4,546,724 to 3,346 students and provide them with assistance for their expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

Sonoma State signed and returned to the Department of Education the certification and agreement that we have applied for and received $9,093,448 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act. These funds will be used to assist with the financial impact of the pandemic on the University and its students.  Half of the institution’s allocation, $4,546,724, will go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants to help with expenses related to COVID-19 including increased costs for housing, food, course materials, technology, health care and childcare. The remainder of the funding will mitigate expected costs associated with transitioning to online instruction and teleworking, as well as loss of revenue associated with housing, meal plans, canceled performances and parking among others.

Funding Methodology

Following guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and CSU Chancellor’s Office, Sonoma State established three operational principles to guide the distribution of these grants:

  • Student success
    To help alleviate financial distress students are experiencing due to COVID-19.
  • Equity
    All students have experienced some type of impact due to COVID-19, but those impacts have been uneven, with greater negative impacts on students from historically underserved communities. Students should receive different levels of grant aid proportional to their financial circumstances.
  • Timeliness and administrative simplicity
    Ensure access for the greatest number of eligible students possible to receive emergency aid as needed, with minimal administrative processes.

With these principles as our guide, we developed a process to allocate the CARES Act to students as quickly as possible, prioritizing students with the greatest financial need.

CARES Act Funds Eligibility

Sonoma State undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who were enrolled in Spring 2020 as of May 15 and are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens can apply. CARES is now closed but there were 4,834 students who were eligible to apply.

International students and undocumented students, including California Dream Act and DACA students are not eligible for federal financial aid programs, including the CARES Act. Please visit the CSU CARES webpage for more information on grant opportunities for international students and undocumented students.

Phase 1: Automatic Grants - Closed

Those students with the greatest financial need as determined by federal financial aid standards and qualify for a federal Pell award will receive automatic grants ranging from $125 to $1,900. The grant amount is based upon each student’s expected family contribution and the number of units the student is currently enrolled in. Please see the table below for award amounts.

Phase 1 Automatic Grant Amounts, Based on Family Contribution and Current Number of Enrolled Units
Expected Family Contribution 12 or more units 9-11 units 6-8 units 1-5 units
0 $1,900 $1,425 $950 $475
1 - 2,000 $1,300 $975 $650 $325
2,001 - 4,000 $1,000 $750 $500 $250
4,001 - 5,711 $500 $375 $250 $125

This is intended to provide immediate, meaningful assistance to students who already had a significant documented financial need and whose needs have grown during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Students who receive Phase 1 grants will be notified through their University email accounts. No additional action is required.

The automatic grants will distribute the vast majority of the CARES act emergency funding for students, leaving a balance for additional emergency grants to students who are eligible and complete a simple application.

Phase 2: Application for Grants - Closed

We have approximately 8,100 students who are eligible to receive a grant through the CARES Act. Through Phase 1 of the awarding process, we have awarded $3,853,025 to 2,705 students. Those students who did not qualify for the Phase 1 automatic CARES grant can still apply to receive help through this program. If you have not already done so, you will need to complete a 2019-2020 FAFSA through FAFSA.gov in order to be considered.

Expenses to be considered for CARES Grant eligibility are those expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Allowable expense items are food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and/or child-care.

Please note that these funds are limited and they will be awarded on a first come first serve basis until funds have been exhausted.

The application period opens on May 8 and runs through May 15. The application can be accessed through your MySSU Student Center page. The awarding of Phase 2 grants will be based on an assessment of student expenses associated with the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the limited amount of funding, the maximum grant award for applicants is $250. Students submitting applications should only ask for funding to cover expenses caused by this disruption.

Phase 3: Automatic Grants - Closed

Post baccalaureate students who have an expected family contribution of less than $5,576, are not eligible for federal Pell grants, and did not receive an automatic award in Phase 1 will receive an automatic CARES Act grant ranging from $125 to $1,900. 

Students who have become Pell eligible for 2019-2020 after the Phase 1 automatics grants were paid out will also receive automatic grants in Phase 3.

The grant amount is based upon each student’s expected family contribution and the number of units the student is currently enrolled in. Please see the table below for award amounts.

Phase 3 Automatic Grant Amounts, Based on Family Contribution and Current Number of Enrolled Units
Expected Family Contribution 12 or more units 9-11 units 6-8 units 1-5 units
0 $1,900 $1,425 $950 $475
1 - 2,000 $1,300 $975 $650 $325
2,001 - 4,000 $1,000 $750 $500 $250
4,001 - 5,711 $500 $375 $250 $125

This is intended to provide immediate, meaningful assistance to students who already had a significant documented financial need and whose needs have grown during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Students who receive Phase 3 grants will be notified through their University email accounts. No additional action is required.

Phase 4: Application for Grants - Closed

We have remaining funds available to award qualified students. Through Phase 1 of the awarding process, we have awarded $3,853,025 to 2,705 students. In Phase 2, we awarded $112,250 to another 449 students.  We are opening another application period for grants to all students who qualify (see CARES Act Funds Eligibility above), including those students that have already received a grant in Phase 1, Phase 2, or Phase 3. 

Expenses to be considered for CARES grant eligibility are those expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Allowable expense items are food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and/or child-care.

Please note that these funds are limited and they will be awarded on a first come first serve basis until funds have been exhausted.

The application period opens on Friday, May 29 at 8 a.m. and runs through Friday, June 5 at 5 p.m. The application can be accessed through your MySSU Student Center page. If you do not see the CARES Act application link, please clear your browser cache, close the browser, and then log in again. If problems persist, try with a different browser or using incognito mode. 

The awarding of Phase 4 grants will be based on an assessment of student expenses associated with the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the limited amount of funding, the maximum grant award for applicants is $500. Students submitting applications should only ask for funding to cover expenses caused by this disruption and that are allowable expenses, including food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and/or child-care.

Accessing Your Grant Money

All grants will be sent to your bank via direct deposit if you have enrolled through your MySSU student account. Please verify your bank account information is correct in your MySSU student account.

If you have not enrolled in direct deposit through MySSU, a check will be mailed to your mailing address. Be sure to verify your mailing address is correct in your MySSU student account.

Given the high-profile nature of this funding, be alert for phishing attacks. Remember, Sonoma State will never ask you to email/text your password or ask you to verify your banking information via email.

Need Help?

Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
For questions related to financial aid and FAFSA 
707-664-2389 (M–F, 10 a.m.– 2 p.m.) 
finaid@sonoma.edu.

Seawolf Service Center
For questions related to direct deposit and mailing of checks
707-664-2308 (M–F, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.)
seawolf.servicecenter@sonoma.edu.

Basic Needs Intervention Program
The Basic Needs Intervention Program is a comprehensive effort through the Division of Student Affairs that identifies and immediately serves some of SSU's most at-risk students. 

Loan Relief and Debt Protection

Governor's Executive Order: On April 23, 2020 Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that most private student loan servicers have agreed to provide payment and other relief to borrowers, including more than 1.1 million Californians with privately held student loans. He also signed an executive order to stop debt collectors from garnishing COVID-19-related financial assistance.

Higher Education Institutional Portion Funding

Funding was made possible through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Sonoma State University was awarded $4,546,723 in funding under CARES Act Section 18004(a)(1) pursuant to signing the required Certification and Agreement with the US Department of Education on April 21, 2020. Sonoma State University was awarded $670,305 under CARES Act Section 18004(a)(2) pursuant to signing the required Certification and Agreement with the US Department of Education on May 12, 2020. As of June 30, 2021, Sonoma State University has drawn-down $5,217,028 of the federal funds to reimburse the campus for student refunds related to housing, meal plan, parking, other fee refunds, and to provide training to faculty in remote learning, technology costs for remote learning, and to reimburse for a reduction in state appropriation.

In December 2020, additional funding for pandemic relief was approved in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA). Sonoma State University was awarded $9,434,071 in funding pursuant to Section 314(a)(1) of CRRSAA. Sonoma State University was also awarded $898,595 pursuant to section 314(a)(2) of CRRSAA. As of June 30, 2021, Sonoma State has drawn-down $6,896,478 of the federal funds to reimburse the campus for a reduction in state appropriations during fiscal year 2020/21.

In May 2021, additional funding for pandemic relief was approved in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Sonoma State University was awarded $12,274,982 in funding pursuant to section 2003 of the ARPA. As of June 30, 2021, Sonoma State has drawn-down $1,000 of the federal funds to reimburse the campus for a reduction in state appropriations during fiscal year 2020/21.

Pursuant to H.R. 748 (CARES Act), section 18004(c), CSU campuses may use monies to cover costs incurred associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. Costs must be incurred on or after March 13, 2020 to be eligible. Examples of allowable uses permitted under the broad institutional authority granted by the CARES Act include lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, payroll costs, and emergency financial aid grants to students for their expenses.

Section 18006 of the CARES Act provides further guidance regarding the use of monies provided under by act, stating that institutions of higher education shall to the greatest extent practicable continue to pay its employees and contractors (e.g. auxiliary organizations) during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.

Additional information about these Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Grants for Postsecondary Education; CARES (HEERF I), CRRSAA (HEERF II), and ARP (HEERF III) can be found at the U.S. Department of Education website.