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CARES Fund Distribution: Student Plan

Eastern Kentucky University signed and returned to the Department of Education the Certification and Agreement form on April 15, 2020. EKU is committed to spend 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. 50% of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) allocation to be awarded to EKU students is $5,271,384. In compliance with guidance from the Department of Education (DoE), these funds will be awarded directly to students to address the pressing financial need of students due to the disruption of campus operations from coronavirus.

Amounts Distributed and Number Awarded

As of June 24, 2020, we have paid 4500 students for a total amount of $4,754,500.

Identification of Students

The University developed a process in line with the DoE guidance to distribute the funds in the most expedited way possible. The decision was made to identify priority groups of students based on immediate, identified need due to the disruption of campus operations from coronavirus and make block awards to students in those priority groups. Students will be asked to submit a response indicating how they have been impacted by COVID-19 and the disruption of campus operations. After discussion with administrators, faculty, and student success staff, six priority student groups were identified. Students who are not eligible for funds, such as fully online students and those not eligible to apply for Title IV funds were not included in these populations. Currently, the university has identified 7,499 potential students who are eligible.

  1. Displaced Institutional Work Study Students: These students were working in University sponsored work study positions that could not be transitioned to remote work or assigned alternate work. In most cases, these positions worked directly in physical student traffic. The Office of Human Resources identified all students who lost their positions after campus operations were limited and calculated the average compensation for the weeks those students would have worked. Students in Federal Work Study positions do not.
  2. Homeless Students in Residence Halls: When residence halls closed due to COVID-19, students with no available residence were moved into one location on campus. These students have no home and in most cases they have lost their part-time employment due to the closure of business on or around campus. The Housing office worked with financial aid to identify these students. CARES funds will help students pay for essential needs (housing, food, toiletries) for the summer months during which campus is under limited operation due to the pandemic.
  3. Institutional Emergency Fund (SAFE) Applicants: These students applied for emergency funds through the University’s pre-existing application process for these funds, which is a small pool of donations to help students in crisis. Applications were reviewed and students were awarded a minimal amount due to the limited nature of donated funds available. All of these students demonstrated pressing financial need due to the disruption of campus operations from coronavirus and had needs were above the amount the University could afford to award at the time (an average of $300). A second award of CARES funds will allow students to continue to pay for essential needs for food over the summer months during which the campus is under limited operation due to the pandemic.
  4. Full Need ($0 EFC) Pell Grant Recipients: These are our neediest students for which a small financial obstacle can prevent students from succeeding. The disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately affect this group of students. CARES funds will help students pay for essential needs (housing, food, toiletries) for the summer months during which campus is under limited operation due to the pandemic.
  5. Remaining Pell Grant Recipients: Although not full need, this group of students also faces financial barriers to success even under normal conditions. The economic impact associated with disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately impact this group of students as well, but to a lesser extent than full need students. Therefore the award amount for this group is smaller. CARES funds will help students pay for essential needs (housing, food, toiletries) for the summer months during which campus is under limited operation due to the pandemic.
  6. Students with a Balance: These are students who have a documented financial need. Their balance is a reflection of financial instability and indicates that they have financial barriers. The amount of this award is tiered based on the amount of the student balance. CARES funds will help these students cover essential needs and other financial obligations for the summer months during which campus is under limited operations due to the pandemic. Funds will be directly distributed to students to cover needs. They will NOT be applied to the identified balance. The balance is only an indicator of need that translates to priority disbursement.
  7. Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $5,580 - $20,000. These are students who were also enrolled during the spring 2020 semester and still demonstrate need when compared to the EKU Cost of Attendance.  Many times these students are some of our neediest students in terms of paying the bill due for tuition, fees, room and meals because they do not qualify for any federal or state need based grants. The amount of these funds will be less than students who qualify for the Pell Grant but will help these students cover essential needs and other financial obligations for the summer months. Funds will be directly distributed to students to cover needs.

Remaining funds after awards have been made to priority group will be distributed to students who apply for emergency funds over the next year with continued financial need due to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. These students may apply on their own or be directed to apply by faculty or staff members who know the student has a need related to COVID-19. This will allow us to provide assistance to qualifying students who do not fit one of the priority groups. CARES funds will help these students cover essential needs and other financial obligations related to disruption caused by the pandemic. These students will apply through the SAFE process outlined here.

COVID-19 Impact Documentation

All students who fall into one of the priority groups will be asked to complete a form to document the ways they have been impacted by the disruption in campus operations due to COVID-19. That documentation will be provided in our reporting spreadsheet for the Department of Education. The form is provided in Appendix A.

Awarded Amount Justification

Justification for amounts awarded is provided in the table below. If students fall into more than one category, they will be awarded the largest group award for which they qualify.

Categories of Awardees   Amount Awarded per Student Justification for Amount Awarded
Priority Group #1 $750.00 The average estimated earnings for the remaining term of employment is $743. 
Priority Group #2 $4,350.00 The amount awarded will cover the summer housing charge $3,150 for on-campus housing and $1,200 for food and other basic needs for 3 months of limited campus operation. 
Priority Group #3 $1,200.00 Amount will cover food and basic needs for three months of limited campus operation.
Priority Group #4 $1,200.00 Amount will cover food and basic needs for three months of limited campus operation.
Priority Group #5 $600.00 Amount will cover half of food and basic needs for three months of limited campus operation.
Priority Group #6    
Balance Amount: $500 - $999 $500.00


Students have existing need based on account balance that will impact the continuation of education. The amount awarded is tiered based on amount of balance as an indication of financial need.
Balance Amount: $1,000 - $1,999 $1,000.00
Balance Amount: $2,000 - $3,000 $1,500.00
Balance Amount Greater Than $3,000 $2,000.00
Priority Group #7 $1,200.00 Students who apply for emergency grants within one year that have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way.  Limit to $1,200 to cover basic needs.

Distribution Method and Message

Students will receive an email in their University email account with the message below to let them know that they are eligible for CARES funds. The link referenced in the message will take students to the form in Appendix A.

 You are eligible for $X in emergency relief funds associated with additional expenses related to the disruption of University operations due to COVID-19. These funds will be disbursed to you through a process established by Eastern Kentucky University. To be eligible, log into EKU Direct and click the yellow box that says 'Click here to submit the CARES form.' Then complete the form to indicate how you have been impacted by the disruption of University operations due to COVID-19. Once you have completed the form and updated your address and banking information, the University will issue the funds through your associated bank account or by check. Failure to update your address or banking information will delay receipt of these funds.

Please contact us at finaid@eku.edu or (859) 622-2361 if you have questions about the disbursement or the disbursement process.

Once a student completes the form, their information will be provided to the Finance Office and funds will be distributed to the student on the next distribution day that week. The Finance Office will update the record for date of distribution and track any returned funds.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CARES Act?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The purpose of the CARES Act is to provide emergency assistance to current students with the most financial need, as a result of disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Who is eligible for CARES?

  • Official 2019-2020 FAFSA is on file
  • Enrolled in a degree-seeking program for the Spring 2020 term
  • Not enrolled in 100% online program
  • Maintaining the minimum requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Eligible for Title IV funds

How will CARES be awarded to EKU students?

Justification for amounts awarded is provided in the table below. If students fall into more than one category, they will be awarded the largest group award for which they qualify. If a student is not eligible based on the identified criteria, EKU encourages them to complete the SAFE (Student Assistance Fund for Eastern) Application. Students who complete the SAFE application will be awarded on a case by case basis.

Categories of Awardees   Amount Awarded per Student Justification for Amount Awarded
Priority Group #1 $750.00 The average estimated earnings for the remaining term of employment is $743. 
Priority Group #2 $4,350.00 The amount awarded will cover the summer housing charge $3,150 for on-campus housing and $1,200 for food and other basic needs for 3 months of limited campus operation. 
Priority Group #3 $1,200.00 Amount will cover food and basic needs for three months of limited campus operation.
Priority Group #4 $1,200.00 Amount will cover food and basic needs for three months of limited campus operation.
Priority Group #5 $600.00 Amount will cover half of food and basic needs for three months of limited campus operation.
Priority Group #6    
Balance Amount: $500 - $999 $500.00


Students have existing need based on account balance that will impact the continuation of education. The amount awarded is tiered based on amount of balance as an indication of financial need.
Balance Amount: $1,000 - $1,999 $1,000.00
Balance Amount: $2,000 - $3,000 $1,500.00
Balance Amount Greater Than $3,000 $2,000.00
Priority Group #7 $1,200.00 Students who apply for emergency grants within one year that have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way.  Limit to $1,200 to cover basic needs.

Am I eligible for CARES Act funding?

Students who are eligible will receive an email with instructions on how to accept their grant and enter their bank information for direct deposit. A check can also be mailed.

If I did not receive CARES Act funds, can I apply?

Yes, EKU encourages students who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 to complete the SAFE (Student Assistance Fund for Eastern) Application. Students who complete the SAFE application will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

What expenses qualify under the CARES Act?

This grant has been provided to assist students with unexpected expenses related to campus disruption as a result of COVID-19 and the transition to all distance learning. These eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Healthcare
  • Child Care
  • Course Materials
  • Technology Needs
  • Educational Related Expenses

Do recipients have to pay back CARES?

No, CARES Act is a grant that does not have to be paid back.

Is the grant taxable?

No, per the Internal Revenue Service the grant will not be included in your taxable income. Please visit the IRS’s site here for more details.

Will the CARES Act grant affect my future aid eligibility?

No, receiving CARES funds will not affect future financial aid eligibility.

Are graduate students eligible?

Yes, any graduate student that has not received CARES and has been adversely affected by COVID-19 please complete the SAFE application.

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