Federal CARES Relief Act

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

In alignment with the federal CARES Act, Oakton Community College is launching the Oakton CARES program to provide emergency assistance for students who were educationally disrupted and financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For students who do not meet the guidelines outlined for the CARES Act, additional College resources are available through the generosity of the Oakton Educational Foundation's Student Success Fund, along with institutional resources set aside for this purpose. A single application allows students to be considered for funding from federal, foundation and institutional resources. Students may apply for funding at academicworks.com.

Read the following information closely about the available funds and eligibility requirements to apply.

The Federal CARES Act
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides economic relief to students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Please note: eligible expenses include food, housing, utilities, course materials, technology, internet service, health care, and/or child care. In the federal guidelines provided to Oakton, tuition is not considered an eligible expense.

Why is this money available to students?
The Department of Education has made federal CARES Act funds available to students who incurred expenses as a result of COVID-19-related disruptions to Oakton’s campus operations.

In support of our values associated with equity, Oakton is also making some institutional funds available to help support students who do not meet the federal guidelines to receive funds.

What are the eligibility criteria to qualify for federal CARES Act funding?
Based on guidance provided by the Department of Education, students must be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). To meet the eligibility parameters to qualify for federal CARES Act funds, students must:

  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree, certificate or other recognized educational credential program;
  • not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school;
  • have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent;
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP);
  • not owe an overpayment (refund) on Title IV grants;
  • not be in default on a Title IV loan;
  • be a U.S citizen or national, a permanent resident, or an eligible non-citizen;
  • have returned any fraudulently obtained Title IV funds, if convicted of, or pled guilty/no contest to charges;
  • not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits;
  • have repaid any Title IV loan overpayment amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits, if obtained inadvertently;
  • if you are male, have registered for Selective Service; and
  • not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.

In addition to the requirements above, students must have incurred expenses related to the disruption of Oakton’s campus operations due to coronavirus.

What students are not eligible for federal CARES funding?
Students from the following groups are not eligible for the federal CARES funds: DACA, undocumented, international, and exclusively online students. Exclusively online is defined as enrolled in only online classes on or prior to March 13, 2020.

If I do not qualify for CARES Act funding, are there any other emergency funds for which I can apply?
Yes. Students should complete the same application and will be considered for institutional funds supported by the College and/or the Oakton Educational Foundation’s Student Success Fund, supported by private donors. Applications will be processed on a first-come first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Students must have incurred expenses related to the disruption of Oakton’s campus operations due to coronavirus.

The maximum Student Success Fund award is normally $500 per student per calendar year. If the request is for a personal expense such as rent, medical bills, utilities, child care, auto repair, or textbooks, the approved funding would be made payable to the third party on behalf of the student or a gift card will be provided. Payments are considered taxable income and students are responsible for reporting this sum when filing tax returns. Due to limited funding, every request may not be approved. (Note: direct payment will not be made to students.)

Students who are not eligible for CARES Act funds will be contacted regarding the Student Success Fund option if appropriate.

Does the money need to be repaid?
No, money received through this fund is a grant and does not need to be repaid.

Does this money count against my financial aid package?
No. Money from the CARES Act is not considered financial assistance under federal statute, nor Department of Education regulations. As such, these funds will not impact your eligibility for regular financial aid (e.g., grants, scholarships, loans).

What is the deadline to apply?
At the present time, there is no deadline to apply. Applications will be processed on a first-come first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

Can I use this money to pay off my Oakton balance?
Oakton Community College is not authorized to apply any federal CARES Act funds toward any outstanding balances that may still be owed by a student. However, once the funds are received by the student, students may choose to use the funds to pay off their outstanding account balance.

Can Oakton just apply the funds to my account balance with my approval or permission?
No. Federal regulations stipulate that all federal CARES Act funds must be disbursed directly to the student and may not be applied toward outstanding balances. To use these funds to pay off an outstanding balance with Oakton, a student must make a payment to their account through myOakton.

If I’m also enrolled in a four-year college or university in addition to Oakton Community College, do I qualify for CARES Act funds at Oakton?
No. Visiting students at Oakton should contact their home institution to learn how their institution is making CARES Act federal funds available to students who qualify.

If I lost my job, can I apply for wages lost?
No, wages lost are not considered an eligible expense. The federal CARES Act funds are designated for eligible expenses including food, housing, utilities, course materials, technology, internet service, health care, and/or child care.

I owe money for the spring and/or summer semester. Can I request funds to pay my tuition?
No. The federal CARES Act funds are designated for eligible expenses including food, housing, utilities, course materials, technology, internet service, health care, and/or child care.

I saw this money on my student account. Does this mean my Oakton Community College account balance has been paid off?
No. Distribution of federal CARES Act funds is made directly to students and not applied by the College toward any outstanding balances that may still be owed by the student. As such, receipt of these funds does not indicate the recipient has satisfied their financial obligations to Oakton for any debts incurred during the spring 2020 term or any terms prior. Please check your current account balance to determine what you may still owe.

Is money received from the CARES Act considered taxable income?
No. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced that emergency financial aid grants through federal CARES Act funds are not taxable. See their FAQ page for more information: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/faqs-higher-education-emergency-relief-fund-and-emergency-financial-aid-grants-under-the-cares-act

Please consult your tax preparer for guidance related to any institutional funds you may receive.

Will all students who apply receive funding?
Applications will be processed on a first-come first-served basis until funding is exhausted. If you have not incurred an expense related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, you are not eligible for funding. Students who are not eligible for funds may be able to access local community resources to meet their needs. To learn more about these resources, contact care@oakton.edu.

Are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students or undocumented students eligible for federal CARES Act funds?
No. Guidance issued by the Department of Education indicates that students must be eligible to submit a FAFSA in order to qualify for CARES Act funds. This limits eligibility to U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, or other Title IV eligible non-citizens. Oakton and the Educational Foundation have provided funding to support students in this group.

Are international students eligible for federal CARES Act funds?
No. Guidance issued by the Department of Education indicates that students must be eligible to submit a FAFSA in order to qualify for the CARES Act funds. This limits eligibility to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or other Title IV eligible non-citizens. Oakton and the Educational Foundation have provided funding to support students in this group.

Are dual credit students eligible for CARES Act funds?
No. High school students enrolled in dual credit courses in which Oakton Community College credit is awarded are not eligible for CARES Act funds.

How will I find out if I am approved for funds?
Students will receive an emailed decision once their application has been reviewed. If awarded funds, students will be issued money via e-refund or paper check. To receive funds electronically, students should set up their e-refund account in myOakton. To do so, students log in to their myOakton account and under ‘Quick Links’ select ‘Bill and Payment’. Once the student account appears, the student selects ‘Refunds’ and ‘Setup Account’.

I don’t see my question listed here. Where can I go for more information? Who can answer my questions?
Questions can be submitted to care@oakton.edu.