COD Student Resource Center building photo

Cares Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act - Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) provides emergency financial assistance to eligible College of DuPage students who are experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19 that could adversely affect their academic success.

CARES/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds Eligibility

The main criteria for the grant is completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), have the verification process of the FAFSA completed, if applicable, and have zero General Title IV eligibility flags. Additionally, students must have been enrolled in the Spring 2020 term meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, and have incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Students who were registered in online degree or certificate programs for which courses are offered fully online, are not considered eligible.

If a student is eligible to file a 2019-2020 FAFSA but has not yet filed, they can file a FAFSA using the steps to apply information.

CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds Availability

The CARES Act requires the College identify Title IV eligible students to receive the funding. The College has one year to distribute funds and has been given flexibility on the distribution approach.

College of DuPage’s distribution plan includes a hybrid approach:

  • Direct distribution: Approximately 66% of the funds will be disbursed to Title IV eligible students who were registered at the time of the legislation’s passage (March 13, 2020), and as the College transitioned to remote learning. These students, if they have incurred expenses, are eligible to receive an amount not to exceed $1200 based on their credit enrollment. We anticipate to start processing the direct distribution of funds beginning the week of May 25, 2020. Due to the volume of awards, it could take approximately six to eight weeks to complete these disbursements. Eligible students enrolled in direct deposit will have their disbursements processed first. These funds can be used for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses. Information for eligible students will be sent through the COD student email.
  • Need-based distribution: Approximately 34% of funds will be used for Title IV eligible students, allowing students who require additional support due to a higher level of need to apply to secure funding for extenuating needs. The need-based application will be ready for use in June.

CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions

You can apply online for CARES Act funding. 

Students with demonstrated emergency expenses or disruptions related to COVID-19 during the Spring 2020 semester may be eligible for funds up to $1,200. The Student Financial Assistance office will review applications daily and notify students via their COD student email account. 

Awards resulting from an application or appeal will be funded on a first-come/first-serve basis until the remaining student emergency aid funds are exhausted.

Your login information for the application is the same login information you use for the student portal and the same login information you use for Blackboard.

We are reviewing applications in the order they are received. Due to the volume of applications, the review process can take several weeks. You will receive an email when a decision has been made on your application.

If your application is approved and you are offered an award, you will have to accept your award before we can issue you a refund. After you accept the award, please allow 2 to 3 weeks for the refund to be processed.

We encourage all students to enroll in direct deposit. If you are not enrolled in direct deposit, your refund will be issued as a check. Direct deposit refunds will be issued first.

Applying for the funding does not automatically mean you will be approved for the funding. Under the 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 Act funds. Students who submitted a FAFSA, but did not complete the financial aid process, are encouraged to complete any steps they are missing to see if they qualify for CARES Act funding.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education does not allow these funds to be used for international students, undocumented students, non-matriculated students, high school dual credit students, or students enrolled in distance-only degree programs. Students not eligible can apply for other funds available from the COD foundation, such as the COVID-19 Student Emergency Relief Fund.

The funding is intended to cover additional expenses incurred due to the transition to online learning. The funding cannot be used to pay your student account balance. Additionally, incomplete applications will not be considered.

We have other ways to connect you to outside sources of funding.  Undocumented and DACA Resources are available for students looking for scholarships or funding specific to their needs. State funding is also available for eligible undocumented and transgender students who qualify through the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act and Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid

The COD Foundation has established a Student Emergency Relief Fund to provide assistance to students who are financially struggling as a result of the pandemic. This is not funded by CARES Act funds, and is open for any students in need:

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be currently enrolled for at least 3 credit hours for the summer semester.
  • Be able to document that the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund is only a part of the resources being considered to resolve the financial hardship.
  • Be able to provide reasonable documentation of the hardship (i.e. medical bills, unemployment application verification, letters of support, financial information, receipts, etc.

Additional Information on CARES Act

The CARES Act Relief Funds are not considered taxable income and will not impact your financial aid. More guidance from the IRS on that topic is available at IRS CARES Act FAQs

If you are currently enrolled in eRefunds, the CARES Act funds will be deposited directly into your bank account. Follow these simple instructions to enroll in eRefunds if not enrolled yet.

The CARES Act Relief Funds are not intended to be applied to your tuition balance. You will receive the funds regardless of having a balance. You determine how to use your funds. Examples of expenses include, but are not limited to: 

  • Books and supplies needed for online course(s) completion
  • Technology needs for online course delivery (Internet, data plan, etc.)
  • Unexpected medical expenses
  • Expenses related to moving, rent, or other housing needs
  • Food
  • Child care

If you have questions on CARES Act distribution, please reach us at