Federal HEERF & CARES Grants

TU expects to receive additional federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) in 2021, but we haven't received any funding or guidance from the federal government yet.  After we receive that guidance, we will add more information to this web page about how those funds will be awarded.

The remainder of this page explains the process we used to award the CARES Grants from the March 2020 CARES Act.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to Towson University for HEERF grants to students.  These critical funds have helped eligible TU students with expenses related to housing, food, health care, child care, course materials, additional technology requirements, unanticipated travel, or other needs related to coronavirus disruptions.

Separate and apart from the Federal CARES Act funds, TU will use the TU Foundation’s Student Emergency and Food Insecurity Fund to support students who are not eligible for federal CARES grants. These TU Foundation donor funds will allow us to provide emergency financial relief to all students during this economic and public health crisis, regardless of their CARES Grant eligibility and/or immigration status.

Application Process

If you are a currently enrolled Fall 2020 student at TU who is experiencing financial disruptions because of the coronavirus, you can apply for an emergency grant. If you don’t meet the federal CARES Grants requirements, we may still be able to offer funds from the TU Foundation’s Student Emergency and Food Insecurity Fund or other funding sources.

Current students who have experienced significant income reductions should also pursue our Special Conditions financial need revaluation process.

Federal CARES Grant Distribution Formula

Towson University’s federal CARES HEERF Grant distribution formula is based on the U.S. Department of Education’s recommendation to distribute funds to our most needy students first. We also recognize that other students and their families are also facing challenges directly tied to the COVID-19 world we are all now experiencing. We have therefore allocated 77 percent of our CARES student grant funds to our spring Pell 2020 Grant students and are awarding the approximately 20 percent in remaining CARES grant funds through the TU Student Emergency Grant application. We also spent 3.1% of the available funds on automatic CARES Grants awards to two additional groups of students defined below.

Automatic CARES Grants to Pell Students

We have already awarded CARES Grants to spring 2020 Pell Grant students who were still enrolled in the spring 2020 semester as of 5/6/2020.  We have already emailed all of these Pell students, and they can review their awards in the Finances sections of Towson Online Services or StudentApps.   

We included our Spring 2020 Pell Grant recipients and some additional Pell students who met all of the other spring Pell Grant requirements but who did not receive spring Pell grant payments because their spring awards prorated to $0 based on their enrollment level or they have exhausted their cumulative Pell Grant limits. These CARES Grants to Pell students were based on the following formula:

Total Attempted Spring units Amount
Full-time (12 or more units) $1,226
¾ time (9-11 units) $920
½ time (6-8 units) $613
¼ time (1-5 units) $307

Additional Automatic CARES Grant Awards

We awarded $128,386 (1.5% of budget) in automatic CARES Grants to students whose MHEC Guaranteed Access Grants were reduced because they had to leave their on-campus housing assignments after the Fall 2020 semester started.  We awarded $134,618 (1.6% of budget) in automatic CARES Grants to former Fall 2020 Residents Assistants who lost their fall room and dining plan benefits because they had to leave their RA positions after the Fall 2020 semester started.  Both of these groups received automatic CARES Grant awards to help them with their fall meal expenses at home during the Fall 2020 semester.

Federal CARES Emergency Grant Criteria

All currently enrolled TU students who are experiencing a financial disruption because of the coronavirus can submit a TU Student Emergency Grant application. We are using this application to award federal CARES Grant and funds from the other non-federal sources outlined above. To be considered for federal CARES funds, students must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Students must have submitted a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and must meet all of these federal aid eligibility requirements.
  • Students must have enrolled at TU for the spring 2020 semester.
  • Federal CARES Grant requirements prohibit payments to students who already withdrew from all their classes before the COVID-19 disruptions.
  • Students may be undergraduate or graduate students and must be enrolled in a degree program or an eligible graduate certificate program.
  • Students who receive the Pell-based CARES grants above can also apply for additional CARES Emergency Grants funds but when reviewing these requests, the review committee will consider each students needs and the funds they have already received from their Pell-based CARES Grants.

Students who were only enrolled in the following online graduate programs are not eligible for CARES Grants:

Frequently Asked Questions

How are CARES Grants disbursed?

CARES Grant and other emergency grants funds must be refunded to students. We can't apply these funds toward any unpaid charges on your TU bill.

How can recipients use CARES Grant Funds?

Recipients can use these funds toward their living, personal, and educational expenses. After receiving the funds, recipients may also use them to pay any unpaid charges on their TU bills.

Will CARES Grant reduce other financial aid?

No, CARES grants will not cause any reductions to other financial aid for this year or next year.

Do recipients have to repay Federal CARES Grants?

No, recipients will not have to repay CARES grants. They are grants, not loans.

Are CARES Grants taxable income?

No. This Internal Revenue Service (IRS) FAQ document states that these CARES grants should not be included in your reported gross income because they “are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

Can new TU students receive CARES Grants?

Based on the federal CARES Grant requirements, we can only award these funds to students who were already enrolled at TU during the spring 2020 semester.

What other resources are available?

If you are a current or new student and your or your family's income has significantly decreased, please learn how to use our Special Financial Conditions process to request a reevaluation of your financial need.

More Information

For questions about CARES Grants for Pell Grant students, contact the Financial Aid Office.

For questions about the Emergency Grants from CARES and other funds, contact the Student Affairs Office at

Required Federal Reporting

We are sharing the following additional data to fulfill federal reporting requirements.  TU has completed the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement forms for both the student portion (50%) and the institutional portion (50%) of CARES Act funds. TU will use all of the funds received from the student portion ($8,667,926) to provide CARES Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. It is estimated that approximately 14,384 TU students may meet all of the minimum federal requirements to qualify for these grants as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, Section 484 of the Higher Education Act, and Section 18004 of the CARES Act. As recommended by the U.S. Department of Education, we have developed the distribution plan set forth above to target funding toward students with higher financial need. As of January 8, 2021, we have distributed $8,309,307 in CARES HEERF grants to 7,071 students.


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