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 HEERF I allocated funding for emergency student financial aid grants. The remaining portion of an institution's HEERF I CARES Act funding may be used for certain other expenses relating to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Following subsequent awards to the Institute (HEERF II and HEERF III) were made available by the Department of Education through additional federal grant programs (CRSSA and ARP). The Institute anticipates receiving a total of $728,243 in funds of which at least $334,703 will be awarded to students. The Department of Education made a student portion of the CARES Act funding available in 2020-21 and the Wright Institute received $72,744 on July 17, 2020. The Institute disbursed the funds in full to students by March of 2021. The Institute was awarded a second grant (Institutional Portion) in the amount of $72,743 on August 31, 2020 and the Institute has made the second “institutional” grant funds available to eligible students as emergency grants due to disruption of campus operations and disbursed $69,456 of this grant to students by June 30, 2021 for a total of $142,200 awarded to students in the form of grants. The Institute plans to award remaining grant funds from HEERF II and III to students in the 2021-2022 academic year.

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, prior to changing guidelines the student portion was only distributable by the Wright Institute to students who were 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 June 30, 2021, $ 142,200 in student and institutional emergency grant funds from the HEERF I grant has been allocated to 108 students as follows:

  • 44 students received a grant of $1,500 up to $2,400
  • 45 students received a grant of $1,000 up to 1,500
  • 6 students received a grant of $900 up to $1000
  • 13 students received a grant of $400 up to $900

The quarterly reports on the Institutional portion showing the total expended are posted here:

September 30th, 2020

March 31st, 2021

June 30th, 2021

September 30th, 2021

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 online application where eligible students could apply for grant consideration if they had expenses related to COVID-19 disruption. The Wright Financial Aid Office reviews student applications including but not limited to examining need and eligibility for Title IV (Federal) financial aid, and active registration status. 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 $2400 based upon expenses and need.

Students were originally notified via email the week of August 17th, 2020, about the application process and sent a link to the application. For the 2020-2021 academic year, applications are to be accepted through October 31st, 2020 for students continuously enrolled into 2020-21 or until funds were fully expended. Students were encouraged to apply prior to August 30th, 2020.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, The Institute anticipates distributing the remainder of the funds to students over the year starting in the fall of 2021. Students will be sent a notice of the application process via email and notification in the Institute portal.

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.