Financial Aid Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CSU received $43 million for direct student payments from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Students were required to apply for funds and must have had a FAFSA on file in order to be considered for the grant; funding was prioritized for students demonstrating the most significant financial need. As ASSET students are not eligible to complete the FASFA and consequently ineligible for CARES funds, the Office of Financial Aid made CSU Ram Grant dollars available to these students.

The 2020 report examines the profile of undergraduate and graduate students who applied for and received CARES grants in SP20. CARES award recipients enrolled in the FA20 term at higher rates than those who did not receive any awards.

The 2022 report takes a cohort-based approach to examine undergraduate student success outcome (persistence to fall following the receipt of CARES funds). Analyses included a comparison of persistence rates between CARES recipients and a group of comparable peers (students who did not receive CARES funds and were in Tier 1, 2, or 3 for their financial aid packaging). Students who received CARES funds persisted at the university at higher rates than their peers who did not receive funds.

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic added financial stress to many students at the university. Funding from the CARES Act as well as institutional aid provided in the form of Ram Grants supported some of the community’s most vulnerable populations. While the emergency funds have run out, need has not. Continuing to have emergency funding available to in-need students can help to retain these students and close gaps student success.