CARES Act gives millions to OU students


Congress passed the CARES Act, giving out $2 trillion in relief funds. Photo courtesy of Grant News.

Oakland University works hard to help students during this time of uncertainty. There was an Emergency grant funding opportunity for OU students from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

These acts were passed by Congress and signed into law earlier this year, in March. This opportunity provided OU with $13,796,824 emergency relief funding. By law, half the funds received, $6,898,412 went directly to students as emergency grants. There were 11,504 students granted a fund in order to help further their education at OU.

“It was important for our government to provide emergency relief grants to college students and higher education institutions,” said Dawn Aubry, vice president of enrollment management. “Oakland also had a responsibility to comply with the federal guidelines and develop an effective process that awarded federal emergency grants to students who met the federal requirements.”

The grants were a maximum of $500, they did not need to be repaid and were distributed in the same manner as financial aid refunds.

When deciding what students received these grants, the U.S. Department of Education provided all universities with guidelines. 

  • Title IV federal aid eligible (2019-2020 FASFA)
    • completed the 2020-21 FAFSA
    • awarded some type of federal aid/loans
    • verification complete, if federally selected
  • Enrolled in the Winter 2020 semester in at least one credit hour as of March 11
  • Not enrolled in exclusively online courses as of March 13 for Winter 2020 semester 

Other eligibility requirements were set up for the summer and fall application process and can be found on the SFS website.

It was very important to ensure that the CARES HEERF grants were awarded effectively, equitably, and quickly,” Aubry said.

There were three phases of the funding process, first was the automatic awards given  out to students who initially met the criteria. In May, 10,850 OU students were automatically selected, without having to apply, for grants up to $500 bringing the total to $5.4 million.

The second and third part of the funding process required eligible students to fill out an application to be considered for a grant. 

This second part allowed some students taking summer classes to receive a grant up to $500. In June, 2,194 more awards were given out bringing the total of grants distributed to students to be $1,091,263. 

During the third and final phase of the process students that were enrolled in fall and winter courses were allowed to apply for consideration. In September, another 765 students were awarded, bringing the total amount of awards up to $382,149.

“Our goal was to help our students stay enrolled at Oakland, mitigate financial impacts from COVID-19, and maintain progress toward earning their degrees so they can advance in the workforce, in their communities and live a good life,” Aubry said.

Students that were given grants were encouraged to sign up for non-payroll direct deposit. This allowed OU to transfer the money directly into student’s bank accounts. Students that did not choose this option were mailed paper checks.

Students with questions should contact Student Financial Services at [email protected] or (248) 370-2550.