Old Main at Sunset

CARES Act/HEERF Emergency Grants FAQ


CARES Act Emergency Grants Frequently Asked Questions


What is the CARES Act/HEERF and where did the funding for emergency grants come from?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) ACT was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. One aspect of the act was the creation of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). HEERF provides funds to institutions for emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted and may be facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a condition for receiving funds a college or university must enter into the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the CARES Act. North Central College submitted the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students on April 13, 2020, and we received confirmation of our funding request on April 21, 2020. Awards will be distributed to eligible North Central College undergraduate and graduate students based on need as determined by the 2019-20 FAFSA with an emphasis on providing additional support to the neediest populations. Visit the CARES Act: HEERF website for more information.

How much HEERF funding did North Central College receive and what is the funding for?

North Central College has been allocated $1.2 million to provide emergency grants to students whose lives have been disrupted and may be facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are intended to help eligible students with academic related expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare. The amount of grant funding received by the College was determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on the number of Pell Grant-eligible students enrolled on campus (75% of the weight) and the overall enrollment of the institution (25% of the weight). Given the weighting, Congress intends for the funds to go to students with the most financial need.

When will I receive my emergency grant?

Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students disbursements were completed by July 1, 2020. 

Who is eligible for an emergency grant?

All North Central College degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled and did not completely withdraw from spring 2020 semester were considered for an emergency grant if they had filed a 2019-20 FAFSA by the last day of the spring 2020 semester. Students are not eligible if enrolled in an online program as of March 13, 2020. Eligible students also could not have unresolved citizenship, selective service, or other disqualifying FAFSA comment codes, and must be making satisfactory academic progress. Students who currently have an outstanding balance on their North Central College account are still eligible, and in such instances, funds will be paid directly to the student rather than applied toward their outstanding balance. In total, approximately 2,100 North Central students are eligible to receive an emergency grant.

Did I have to fill out a FAFSA to receive the emergency grant?

Yes, the College used the Expected Family Contributions (EFC) from students’ 2019-20 FAFSA to determine its HEERF emergency grant amounts. The majority of the College’s allocation was based on the number of Pell Grant-eligible students currently enrolled at the College, and those students who show the highest financial need as determined through the FAFSA will receive the largest amount.

Do I need to apply for the emergency grant?

Students do not need to apply to receive emergency grant funding. Emergency grants will be automatically disbursed to students through their North Central College Student Account.

How will I know if I am eligible to receive an emergency grant?

Students due to receive an emergency grant will be notified by the College via email and should receive a direct deposit or paper check in June 2020.

How much emergency grant money will I receive?

Grant amounts vary by student based on the results of their 2019-20 FAFSA. All eligible students were divided into five groups based on their Expected Family Contributions (EFC). Each group was allocated an emergency grant amount between $250 and $890, with the highest amount going to students demonstrating the greatest need.

The amount of HEERF funding that institutions received varied based on the Department of Education’s allocation formula. That means the amount of the emergency grants at North Central College will not be the same as at other colleges. Each college had to develop its own strategy for disbursing the funds to eligible students enrolled at their campus.

How will I receive my emergency grant?

Emergency grants will either be directly deposited to students who signed up for direct deposit or sent via check to students’ current mailing address.

When will I receive my emergency grant?

We expect disbursements to begin the week of June 1, 2020. For students who have signed up for direct deposit, emergency grants should only take a couple of days to deposit once the College receives its disbursement from the federal government. For students who do not sign up for direct deposit, checks will be mailed to their current address on file in Merlin.

How can I use the emergency grant money?

The grant should be used for academic related expenses incurred due to COVID-19. Some examples include expenses related to food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare.

Is the emergency grant taxable?

Please see the Internal Revenue Service guidance at for more information.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

For questions about the disbursement of the emergency grant, email Student Accounts at studentaccounts@noctrl.edu.  For questions about whether or not you filed a 2019-20 FAFSA by the last day of spring 2020 semester, view your financial aid information in Merlin or email the Office of Financial Aid at finaid@noctrl.edu.

Can I donate my emergency grant to other students who might be in greater need?

Yes. If you wish to donate your emergency grant money to other students in need, you may do so by making a direct donation to Cardinal Operation Hope and Help, or you can donate to the College’s COVID-19 Financial Impact Fund. Please note that the College cannot direct your emergency grant money to these funds. Rather, you can opt to do so once you receive the funds.

Tuition and Aid


A degree from North Central College is an investment with lifelong returns. North Central partners with you and your family to maximize affordability through a number of financial assistance options. Visit the main Tuition and Aid page for more information.