Financial aid available for Mason students through federal coronavirus relief funds

George Mason University is disbursing millions of dollars in CARES Act funding to more than 14,000 eligible students this fall, with the latest funds to be awarded in early September.

To qualify for funding, students must be registered for at least one credit and have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with an Expected Family Contribution of less than $20,000.

The CARES Act—Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act—provides direct economic help to address issues related to COVID-19. the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), an offshoot of CARES, is the source of the financial aid. This is the third round of HEERF funding.

Because of student need, Mason will receive more HEERF money than any four-year university in Virginia, with half of the awarded $64 million earmarked for financial aid. Following Mason are Virginia Commonwealth University ($57.1 million) Virginia Tech ($49.7 million), Old Dominion University ($46.2 million), James Madison University ($31 million), the University of Virginia ($30.4 million) and the College of William & Mary ($10.2 million) .

“The CARES/HEERF funding that Mason will be able to award this year is key to keeping our students in school and on track to graduation,” said David Burge, vice president for enrollment management. “We are grateful for this additional support during a time that has been incredibly challenging for our students.”

“The CARES/HERRF fund allows us to offer financial support to those who need it during a time that has tested our students in every way possible,” said Rose Pascarell, vice president for University Life. “HEERF dollars, along with the Stay Mason/Emergency Assistance Fund, have decreased the intensified financial stressors brought on by the pandemic—relief that is much needed and appreciated by our students.”

HEERF will release more awards in early September for potential aid qualifiers who have registered for fall classes. Students should check their financial aid tab in PatriotWeb. Questions can be directed to the Office of Student Financial Aid at 703-993-2000 or through the Financial Aid virtual service form.

Students are eligible to receive these funds if:

  • They complete and submit the CARES ACT/HEERF III Certification form.
  • They are enrolled in at least one credit through Mason on the Sept. 15 fund release date.

In addition:

  • Students may receive funds as a disbursement or apply it directly to their bills.
  • Students will not see late fees on their accounts before the Sept. 15 HEERF disbursement.

If a student changes their mind about whether they want to receive the money as a credit to their bill or as a refund, after submitting a certification form, they can request the change in writing through the Financial Aid virtual service form by Sept. 9.

Students attending Mason this fall who do not meet some of the HEERF eligibility requirements can apply for assistance through the Stay Mason/Emergency Assistance Fund.

The Stay Mason Student Support Fund was created in October 2015 in response to students concerned about rising tuition and their inability to persist at Mason because of their financial circumstances. Since the pandemic, Stay Mason has been temporarily merged with the Student Emergency Assistance Fund. During this time, additional institutional money, as well as CARES Act money, was awarded to students in need.

Since the beginning of Spring 2021, Mason has returned to normal operations with the Stay Mason Student Support Fund but will continue to distribute CARES Act money as available.

From July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the Stay Mason Student Support Fund/Emergency Assistance Fund awarded $3.3 million to 2,648 qualified students. From July 1 to Aug. 27, 88 students have received more than $203,000 from the fund.

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