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

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which allocated funding to institutions of higher education based on the number of each institution's students with high financial need and each institution's total student enrollment. Pursuant to the CARES Act, institutions are obligated to use at least half of their allocated funding for emergency student financial aid grants. The remaining portion of an institution's CARES Act funding may be used for certain other expenses relating to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. The Department of Education has made the student portion of this CARES Act funding available first and the Wright Institute received $72,744 on July 17, 2020.

As a condition to receiving the emergency student financial aid portion of its CARES Act funding, the Wright Institute signed and returned to the Department of Education a Certification and Agreement in which the Wright Institute affirmed that, in accordance with the requirements of the CARES Act, the Wright Institute will use no less than 50% of its total CARES Act funding (i.e. the student financial aid portion of its CARES Act funding) to provide emergency financial aid grants to students.

Pursuant to the CARES Act, this student portion is only distributable by the Wright Institute to students who are eligible to participate in financial aid programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Based on submitted Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAs), the Wright Institute had 242 students who were eligible for federal student financial aid for the spring 2020 semester.

As of August 17, 2020, the Wright Institute has not yet distributed the $72,744 student portion of its CARES Act funding and anticipates to begin distributing funds to students by the end of August 2020.

CARES Act FAQ

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is legislation passed by Congress to respond to COVID-19. Included in the legislation is the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which allocates funds to institutions based on the number of students with high financial need and the institution's total student enrollment. Of each institution's HEERF allocation, 50% must be distributed directly to students in the form of emergency student financial aid grants to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

How will the Wright Institute decide who would receive these grants?

The Wright Institute developed an application where eligible students could apply for grant consideration if they had expenses due to COVID-19 disruption. The Wright Institute will be reviewing all students who submit applications and who are eligible for Title IV (Federal) financial aid, and were enrolled in courses as part of a Wright Institute programs, and eligible for Federal financial aid as of March 17, 2020 (the date Alameda County was ordered to Shelter-in-Place). Per the request of the Secretary of Education, financial need and relevant expenses will be considered when determining the amount of the grant for each student. Emergency grants will be distributed as follows:

  • Enrolled students will receive grant funds based on relevant school related expenses incurred as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic and students' financial need.
  • Funding is expected to range between $250 and $800 based upon expenses and need.

Students were notified via email the week of August 17th, 2020, about the application process and sent a link to the application. Applications are to be accepted through October 31st, 2020 for students continuously enrolled into 2020-21 or until funds have been fully expended. Students were encouraged to apply prior to August 30th, 2020.

Applications reviewed take into account the amount requested, expenses incurred, Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA, date when the application was submitted, and with the goal in mind of helping as many students as possible with the limited funds available.

Are CARES Act grants taxable?

No. The IRS has issued guidance that these grants will not be considered taxable income to students.

Where can I find the application?

Students can submit an application directly to financialaid@wi.edu by following this link. Be sure to sign in with your wi.edu email address.

For more information, please visit: US Department of Education CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Students with any other questions are encouraged to contact the financial aid office at financialaid@wi.edu.