CARES Act Reports and FAQs

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 (HEERF) to help universities provide emergency financial aid grants for students and to assist with institutional expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. Iowa State received $21.7 million in HEERF funding from the CARES Act, with half ($10.85 million) used for emergency student financial aid grants and the other half for institutional operations

The U.S. Department of Education requires institutions to report on usage of their HEERF funds for both student financial aid grants and for institutional support. Reports are provided at the links below, followed by FAQs.


Reports and Disclosures:


Student Emergency Aid: CARES Act Report and Disclosure for August 28th, 2020 (pdf) Final
Student Emergency Aid: CARES Act Report and Disclosure for July 17th, 2020 (pdf)
Student Emergency Aid: CARES Act Report and Disclosure for June 5th, 2020 (pdf)
Institutional Support: CARES Act Report for October 30th, 2020 (pdf)

CARES Act FAQ: Student Financial Aid


What types of funding were available?
  • Iowa State University received $10.85 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Iowa State University also received funding through generous donations to the #CycloneStrong fund, and through our participation in the University Innovation Alliance through support they received from ECMC and Course Hero.

Who was eligible to apply?
  • Any student – undergraduate, graduate, professional, domestic, international, or undocumented – was eligible to apply. Students must have been enrolled for Spring 2020 or have registered for classes for Summer 2020. We did not consider applications for Fall 2020 as the language of the CARES Act dollars indicated it was to be spent for students whose academic pursuits were interrupted during Spring 2020 due to COVID-19. Each funding source had different criteria, meaning that applications were matched with a fund for which the student would qualify.

What were the criteria to qualify?
  • To have qualified for CARES Act funding, students must have:
    • Demonstrated a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Submitted the 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who did not filed the 2019-20 FAFSA were not eligible.
    • Completed the financial aid verification process, if selected.
    • Met Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.
    • Utilized all available sources of financial aid, including federal student loans.

  • To have qualified for funds other than CARES Act funds, students must have:
    • Demonstrated a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Met Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.
    • Utilized all available sources of financial aid, including federal student loans if eligible.

Was there a maximum amount?
  • Students were asked to apply for what they needed to meet the expenses of their hardship. Because there were multiple sources of funds, we analyzed the best way in which to assist. We could not guarantee that we could meet a student’s full request.

Were students guaranteed full funding for their hardship?
  • Many students experienced hardship and the full impact of the need of all students was unknown. Funds were distributed as equitably as possible, but could not guarantee that students would receive full funding for their request.

How did students receive the funds?
  • Funds received through the CARES Act, #CycloneStrong, or the UIA, flowed through the ISU U-Bill system but did NOT apply to any outstanding U-Bill charges. It was deposited directly into a student’s personal account at their financial institution of choice as designated in AccessPlus. Students who had not set up a direct deposit account, were directed to do so at AccessPlus >> Account/U-Bill >> Direct Deposit Sign-up. Money typically took 2-3 business days to appear in a bank account from the date the refund showed on the U-Bill

How long did it take before students knew the status of their application?
  • As the volume of applications that were received was unknown, providing an exact date was difficult. Every effort was be made to respond within a week regarding the status of a request. Students received notification via their ISU e-mail address

Will funds be available beyond spring semester?
  • The first priority was to assist students who experienced a financial hardship in Spring 2020 or for enrollment in Summer 2020 as a result of a disruption in campus activities due to COVID-19. Funding through the Federal CARES Act was also utilized to assist Pell-eligible undergraduate students who had been enrolled in Spring 2020, and met all other CARES qualifications, with the purchase of a laptop when ISU announced that laptops would be a requirement for the 2020-21 academic year. Currently, all funds from the Federal CARES Act are expended. Students with continuing needs should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss other available options.


CARES Act FAQ: Institutional Support


How much funding did ISU receive for institutional expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic?
  • Iowa State University received $10.85 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

How can the funds be spent?
  • According to guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, these funds can cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. The USDOE has created specific FAQs to answer questions regarding these funds.

Has ISU spent all of these funds?
  • ISU has invested significant resources in response to operational changes due to the coronavirus. Current (October 2020) estimates for these expenses are in excess of $20 million. The university has been collecting information on refunds, credits and other expenses from across campus to determine their proper eligibility for different funding sources available, including CARES Act funds.

For further information regarding Iowa State University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.