Federal CARES Relief Act

Oakton CARES Emergency Relief Funds

Last Updated: Fall 2021

In alignment with the federal CRRSA Act and the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Oakton Community College continues to offer funding under the Oakton CARES program in order to provide emergency assistance to students who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since the spring 2020 semester. Students may apply for this grant funding if they have incurred emergency costs due to coronavirus in one of the following expense categories: books and supplies, child care, food, health care, housing/rent, transportation, and tuition and fees. Students may apply for funding by accessing the following link: https://oakton.academicworks.com/opportunities/flexible

Please read through all the following questions closely about the available funds and the eligibility to apply as changes have occurred since the launch of the Oakton CARES program.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds

The CRRSA Act and ARP provide economic relief to students who have been impacted by and incurred emergency costs due to coronavirus. Please note: eligible expenses include books and supplies, child care, food, health care, housing/rent, transportation, and tuition and fees. Emergency relief funds can only be applied to tuition and fees with student authorization.

Why is this money available to students?

The Department of Education has made federal emergency relief funds available to students who have been impacted by and incurred emergency costs due to coronavirus.

What are the eligibility criteria to qualify for federal emergency relief funding?

Federal funding is subject to the rules and eligibility requirements found in Section 314 of the CRRSA Act and Section 2003 of the ARP and in subsequent notice(s) from the U.S. Department of Education. There are several student eligibility requirements to qualify for the federal emergency relief funds.

  • Students must have incurred emergency costs due to coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in March 2020;
  • Students should be registered in at least 3 credit hours in the semester in which they are applying for funds;
  • Students with exceptional need, defined as eligible for a Pell Grant, will be prioritized

Which students are eligible for federal emergency relief funding?

Students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants. This includes U.S. citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, and similar undocumented students. International students are also eligible for emergency grants; however, domestic students will be prioritized.

Also, students must be currently enrolled in courses in the semester in which they are applying for funding.

I previously received CARES funding. Can I apply again for new additional federal emergency relief funds?

Yes, students who received funding in any semester from spring 2020 thru summer 2021 can complete the new application for federal emergency relief grants. Moving forward, applicants may only apply and receive funding once per semester. Students must be registered in each semester they apply for funds. Please refer to the application for more specific details.

What is the maximum amount that I can receive?

Award amounts range from $500 to $2,500 per application for Fall 2021. Application amount is determined by qualifying expense, financial need as demonstrated on the federal financial aid application or Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (as of date of CARES application), and enrollment status as of date of CARES application. Applicants may only apply and receive funding once per semester. However, students with extenuating circumstances may request an appeal for additional funding consideration. Oakton CARES student appeals will be managed by the Office of Student Affairs. Appeal forms can be requested at studentaffairs@oakton.edu or 847.635.1739.

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 federal emergency relief funds 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?

Each semester will have a deadline date to apply. Please refer to the application for more specific details. Applications will be processed on a first-come first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Please note, funding requests by currently enrolled students who demonstrate financial need will be given priority.

Can I use this money to pay off my Oakton balance?

Yes, students can deposit their check and use those funds to pay an outstanding balance on their account. Students may also wish to complete an appeal application to be considered for funding for a prior balance. Oakton CARES student appeals will be managed by the Office of Student Affairs. Appeal forms can be requested at studentaffairs@oakton.edu or 847.635.1739.

If I’m also enrolled in a four-year university in addition to Oakton Community College, do I qualify for federal emergency relief funds at Oakton?

Possibly. However, visiting students at Oakton should contact their home institution to learn how their institution is making federal emergency relief funds available to students who qualify.

If I lost my job, can I apply for wages lost?

No, wages lost would not be considered an eligible expense. The federal emergency relief funds are designated for eligible expenses including books and supplies, child care, food, health care, housing/rent, transportation, and tuition and fees.

I still owe money to Oakton. Can I request funds to pay my tuition?

Yes, students can deposit their check and use those funds to pay an outstanding balance on their account. Students may also wish to complete an appeal application to be considered for funding for a prior balance. Oakton CARES student appeals will be managed by the Office of Student Affairs. Appeal forms can be requested at studentaffairs@oakton.edu or 847.635.1739.

I saw this money on my student account. Does this mean my Oakton Community College account balance has been paid off?

No. Receipt of these funds does not indicate the recipient has satisfied their financial obligations to Oakton for any debts incurred. 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 the CARES Act, CRRSA Act, and ARP are not taxable. See their FAQ page for more information: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/higher-education-emergency-grants-frequently-asked-questions

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 been impacted by and incurred emergency costs 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.

Students could also complete the Oakton Educational Foundation’s Student Success Fund Application, supported by private donors. This application can be found here: https://www.oakton.edu/admission/forms/index.php

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 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.)

Are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students or undocumented students eligible for federal emergency relief funds?

Yes. Updated guidance issued by the Department of Education indicates these students are now eligible for federal emergency relief funds.

Are international students eligible for federal emergency relief funds?

Yes. Updated guidance issued by the Department of Education indicates these students are now eligible for federal emergency relief funds. However, institutions must ensure that funds go to students who have exceptional need. The Department of Education encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students in allocating this funding.

Are dual credit/concurrent students eligible for emergency relief funds?

Yes. High school students enrolled in dual credit/concurrent courses where Oakton Community College credit is awarded are eligible for federal emergency relief 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 financialaid@oakton.edu.