UA quickly distributes CARES Act funds to students impacted by pandemic


In just a few short weeks, The University of Akron has distributed support to more than 6,000 UA students through the federally funded Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. UA received a total of $14 million from the CARES Act to help mitigate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this total, $7 million was mandated for immediate assistance to current students experiencing financial hardships caused by the pandemic. The grants can be used for expenses such as housing, food, course materials, technology and child care.

With direction from the U.S. Department of Education, the University has worked quickly to provide automatic, $1,200 disbursements to Pell-eligible students, and an application process was developed for all eligible students. On May 5, students enrolled in spring 2020 courses received information and instruction about available support. A corresponding webpage provides additional information and the application link. 

“While our students have proven to be quite resilient, we are thankful that we have the ability to deliver funds that might help to alleviate some of the financial pressures they are experiencing,” says Dr. John Messina, vice president for student affairs. “It is our goal to distribute these funds as widely as possible to assist as many UA students as we can.”

UA has honored its commitment to provide immediate assistance by responding to applications within 24 business hours. For those students approved for funds, checks are mailed within 48 hours.

Grateful receipients

The response from grateful students has been just as immediate. They have written UA to express their thanks for funds that will help cover the basics of living and staying in school.

“Due to being laid off because of the pandemic, it has made it difficult for me to find work with a consistent income to pay for necessities,” wrote one student, whose experience is typical of many grant recipients. “These funds will be used for rent and utilities, food and transportation, as well as any other expenses that may come up this summer while I take classes.”

Within the CARES application, students are able to request additional support from UA’s ZipAssist team. As the student advocacy and support office, ZipAssist works alongside students on a daily basis to help them overcome obstacles and successfully maintain enrollment at UA. Students seeking additional resources received individual outreach for meetings and are provided information about campus and community resources — such as financial aid, payment plans, counseling, tutoring, academic assistance and re-enrolling for the summer or fall semesters. 

The University also has well-established programs in place to offer additional emergency assistance programs:

  • Student Emergency Financial Assistance [SEFA] program provides one-time assistance for unforeseeable emergency hardships.
  • Campus Cupboard provides food and hygiene items each week to enrolled students, which are currently available with curbside pick-up.
  • ZipsTech is a program that provides loaned equipment, such as laptops, hot spots and webcams so students can continue their education. 

UA students can learn about the eligibility guidelines and apply for funds online at CARES Emergency Assistance Grant.