Updated as of 10/05/21.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

Phishing emails are being received regarding CARES funding, do not provide personal information like your Social Security number or bank account information. You should only provide or update personal information through MyUW. The UW will use the information you have provided in MyUW to communicate with you or disburse aid to you.

For more information regarding phishing scams, click here.

Reports and Disclosures

HEERF Quarterly Reporting March 31st, 2021 – Revised (pdf)

February 18th, 2021 report – revised (pdf)

January 4th, 2021 report (pdf)

HEERF Quarterly Reporting December 31st, 2020 (pdf)

October 8th, 2020 report (pdf)

HEERF Quarterly Reporting September 30th, 2020 (pdf)

August 31st, 2020 report (pdf)

July 13th, 2020 report (pdf)

May 29th, 2020 report (pdf)


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the CARES/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds?

Students who meet basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid and who have the greatest financial need can be considered for these funds. The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) will use Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data to determine your eligibility. If you are eligible to file a FAFSA but have not yet filed for 2020-21 and need assistance, please file a FAFSA at studentaid.gov.

Under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, these funds can be awarded to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students pursuing degree programs and enrolled at the UW. Students enrolled through Continuum College fee-based degree programs are eligible for consideration too.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education does not allow these funds to be used for international students, undocumented students, non-matriculated students or students enrolled in distance-only degree programs. If you are a student from one of these groups, there are other types of emergency aid from the UW available. Please see the questions below for details on applying for these emergency aid programs.

What is a UW CARES ACT Relief Grant?

The CARES Act directed universities to prioritize students whose family income is in the low- to low-middle income categories and the UW wants to provide economic relief quickly to students who may have experienced additional expenses and/or a loss of income due to COVID-19. We have used the CARES Act emergency aid funds to provide a standard relief grant of either $550 (2020-21) or $1,200 (2019-20) per student, and $1,700 (2019-20) for students with dependents, based on the family income reported on your FAFSA.

The specific criteria for the standard UW CARES Act Relief Grant is as follows—

  • Undergraduate or graduate student enrolled for 10 or more credits spring quarter
  • Eligible for funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965
  • A 2019-20 FAFSA or 2020-21 FAFSA on record with the UW’s Office of Student Financial Aid
  • Not enrolled in a distance only education program at the UW
  • Family income in the low- to low-middle income levels based on FAFSA information.*


  • Undergraduates who borrowed federal student loans and/or did not have significant unmet need in 2019-20
  • For graduate students, 2019-20 borrowing of $25,000 or more in federal student loans
  • For 2020-21 CARES awards, undergraduates who borrowed federal student loans and/or did not have significant unmet need in 2020-21

*Pell Grant recipients enrolled for 6 or more credits spring quarter 2020 received CARES funds or other equivalent emergency aid funds such as Emergency Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, UW Emergency Response Grant, Husky Pride or other UW funds provided by all three campuses.

When will CARES/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds be available?

The UW applied for funding from the federal CARES Act and once we received that funding from the U.S. Department of Education, we were able to rapidly distribute grants to students based on their financial need. Funds were disbursed during the week of April 27 and we continue to make awards to students. Recipients are notified via a message to their UW email account if awarded CARES Act funds.

How can I use the UW CARES Act Relief Grant?

These funds are meant to help students pay expenses for technology, health care, child care, course materials, rent, food moving or other expenses incurred this quarter. If you have yet to experience financial stress due to COVID-19, these funds can help with unanticipated expenses or income loss that may occur throughout the quarter and into future quarters.

Some students who file individual requests for assistance may also receive a UW CARES Act Relief Grant as we continue to provide assistance to students who encounter new financial challenges from the pandemic.

Why didn’t I receive a UW CARES Act Relief Grant?

Under 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 grants. However, the UW may be able to help you with emergency aid from other institutional or private donations. These funds are limited, but we encourage you to apply. We will review your request and determine if we can offer you assistance.

If you are eligible for federal aid, but did not receive the UW CARES Act Relief standard grant described above, you can notify our office for a review of your situation by submitting a request for emergency aid.  This application usually takes less than five minutes to complete.

When we award a standard grant, we must make some assumptions about students’ needs in order to award the funds quickly.  Sometimes these broad assumptions miss students that may have great financial need as well. We recognize that you may have need even if you don’t meet the standard grant criteria listed above. We know that many families’ income is in flux or there may be additional expenses associated due to the pandemic. We need to hear from you in order to determine if we can offer you funds too. Please file the emergency aid request to help with your immediate needs and consider filing a request for change in income or expenses for other financial aid funds for longer term and future needs. You can find more information about changing your financial aid information here.

What emergency relief funds are available for undocumented students?

While the U.S. Department of Education does not allow CARES funding to provide grants to undocumented students, the UW will provide grants to undocumented students who meet the same criteria for eligibility and greatest financial need as those students receiving a UW CARES Act Relief grant. These grants are funded by non-federal sources. The grant amounts are either $550 (for 2020-21) or $1,200 per student (2019-20) and $1,700 (2019-20) for students with dependents.

The information on your Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) form was used to establish your eligibility. If you have not filed the WASFA form for 2020-21 and you need assistance, please apply at https://readysetgrad.wa.gov/wasfa.

If you have higher COVID-19 expenses than the standard relief grant amount, you can submit a request for emergency aid.

What emergency relief funds are available for international students?

Unfortunately, under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, international students are not eligible for the federal CARES funds. International students who need emergency aid assistance are encouraged to file an emergency aid application. Please note that these funds are limited and generally awarded to help with living expenses.

You may also want to review the resources page on the International Student Services website.


If you have any questions that are not addressed above, please contact our office.