COVID-19 and Financial Aid

CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Fall 2020 applications have now opened for the $500 Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant from the CARES Act for emergency financial assistance if you experienced COVID-19 related expenses. This is a grant that does not need to be repaid and will not affect your future financial aid eligibility. Funds are limited and awarded on first-come, first-served basis.

For the HEERF (CARES Act) grant, students must:

  • Have successfully completed the 2020-21 FAFSA (US Citizens and Eligible Non-citizens)
  • Have a complete 2020-21 financial aid file with no outstanding financial aid requirements
  • Be a Cypress College student: Fall 2020 home campus according to Admissions & Records must be Cypress College
  • Be in Good / Warning / or Probation standing for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for fall 2020
    • If currently disqualified, you must submit a SAP Appeal and be approved first (deadline to submit SAP Appeal: November 29, 2020) 
  • Be currently enrolled in fall 2020 courses (or already successfully completed a fall 2020 course)
    • If you dropped ALL of your fall 2020 courses, you are not eligible

Please make sure to complete any outstanding 2020-21 financial requirements as soon as possible, as your HEERF application cannot be processed until you do so.

Please note: if you have already applied and received an HEERF award for fall 2020, please do not apply again. At this time, students cannot receive multiple awards.

As of November 18, 2020, we have awarded all HEERF funds for the fall 2020 semester. We will update this section as soon as we have information regarding the possibility of awarding for spring 2021.

COVID-19 Financial Aid FAQ

What if my income has significantly decreased, compared to my income from 2018?

If your (or your spouse’s or parent’s) income or employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, or you have extenuating circumstances related to your income that the financial aid office should be aware of, you may be able to request an appeal to use your more recent income on your 2020-21 FAFSA.

This type of appeal is referred to as an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Appeal. The purpose of this appeal process is to evaluate any special circumstances that may have impacted the amount or type of aid a student may be eligible to receive. These decisions happen on a case-by-case basis. Students will need to complete verification prior to completing an EFC appeal.

Before you request an appeal, log in at and check to make sure you’ve completed verification. If you have not yet completed Verification, and do not see that option when you log in, please contact your designated Financial Aid Technician.

To request an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Appeal: (View a video tutorial, or step-by-step instructions with screenshots.)

  1. Log in at (using your myGateway information).
  2. Click the blue request button on the top right-hand side.
  3. Choose “Family Contribution Appeal” by clicking on the green + button.
  4. Briefly explain your reason for request, such as “loss of employment” or “decrease in salary.”
  5. Click submit – you should now see the Appeal in your task window (it will be in its own tab).
  6. Click the gray button to fill out the form, select the special circumstance that applies to you.
  7. Provide a detailed statement that explains your change in income, then sign your form and click submit.
  8. Upload any documentation that helps support your case (such as your most recent pay stubs, letter of last date of employment, and proof of any unemployment benefits received.).

If you have specific questions, please reach out to your designated Financial Aid Technician, or contact us through Cranium Café for live assistance.

What happens if I drop ONE of my classes?

Students that drop any course prior to the Freeze Date will need to repay any Pell grant funds that were paid to them for that course. Students that drop a course (earning a W grade or get an Incomplete) will not owe back their Financial Aid (the aid is based off Frozen Units) as long as they do not drop ALL of their courses. However, it may impact your Satisfactory Academic Progress in future semesters. To find the freeze date for the current semester, please check the disbursement schedule.

What happens if I drop ALL of my classes?

Students that drop all of their courses before the Freeze Date will have to repay the Pell grant funds that were awarded to them. Students that drop all of their courses after the Freeze Date will have their eligibility calculated based on the percentage attended/earned and any unearned amount will have to be repaid by the student. This is called a Return to Title IV calculation, in which you will be notified the amount you owe within two weeks of completely withdrawing. Complete withdrawals may also impact your Satisfactory Academic Progress in future semesters. To find the freeze date for the current semester, please check the disbursement schedule.

Is there any other aid I can get on top of what I’ve already received?

If you have received all eligible grants and you need additional financial assistance, you may apply for a Federal Student Loan. (Loans are not available for the summer session).

For more information, please visit our Loan section:

If you would like to pursue obtaining a student loan, please reach out to Nishad Marathe (Loan Coordinator) at

How do I apply for aid?

Complete either the FAFSA ( or CADAA ( The 2020-21 year applies for the current school year (through summer 2021). Students have until June 30, 2021 to submit their 2020-21 application.

The 2021-22 year begins fall 2021. Applications for the 2021-22 aid year will be available starting October 1, 2020.

Once you submit and we receive your application, you may need to complete additional required documentation through our online software at (You’ll receive an email with instructions once we receive your application).

Where can I get services to help with my federal student loans?

Cypress College partners with ECMC Solutions to help navigate your federal student loans!

Am I required to make payments on my federal student loans during the COVID-19 pandemic?

As of January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for the continued interests waiver to 0% and suspension of federal student loan payments until September 30, 2021. Make sure you contact your lender or ECMC Solutions for more information.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Report for Student Portion of Cares Act Funds


Cypress College has signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and intends to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

Cypress College has received $3,573,967.

Cypress College has awarded $3,573,967 to 7,152 students as of November 18, 2020.

The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is about 50% of our Total Student Population.

The methodology used for student selection was structured using eligibility determined by the Department of Education. This used student data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as enrollment data to determine student eligibility for the first round of awards. Eligible students must be enrolled for spring, enrolled in an on-campus program, and eligible for the FAFSA, completing all eligibility requirements (U.S. citizens, HS graduates or GED, males registered with Selective Service, meeting SAP or in Probation status, and completing verification requirements.). These student populations are sent an electronic link to an Emergency Grant request form to be completed and submitted for evaluation and awarding. Instructions and guidance are provided on the form.

Weekly rounds of awarding were processed since the funding was made available, through the end of the spring semester. HEERF information for subsequent terms is forthcoming.

Policy for Determining which Students Did or Will Receive Emergency Financial Aid Grant and How Much Funding They Did or Will Receive

  1. Student submits a “HEERF Request Form” during the application period, which began on May 5, 2020 and closes Friday, July 30, 2020.
    • The financial aid office staff reviews all requests on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  2. Review includes checking to see if the student:
    • has completed a 2019-20 FAFSA application and qualifies for federal Title IV aid,
    • has a complete 2019-20 Financial Aid file (not outstanding requirements),
    • was enrolled or completed at least 1 spring 2020 course,
    • has Cypress College as their home campus for spring 2020
    • is Good, Warning, or Pro1 for Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  3. Students who meet all Title IV eligible requirements and who apply, and were enrolled in at least .5 units at the time of request (or if applied after end of spring 2020, successfully completed at least one course), are awarded $500. Students who are awarded, receive notification via email “Financial Aid Offer,” and is also made viewable in the myGateway student portal. Disbursements are made, and funds are sent to Bank Mobile via our normal financial aid refund process within 10-14 days. Any student not eligible for BankMobile account was sent a paper check.
  4. Students who are not eligible are sent an email requesting they follow up with our office. Students who later completed their financial aid requirements were considered for awards, until the end of the semester, and if eligible at that point, awarded as in number 2 above. During the subsequent weekly rounds, the Financial Aid Office also considered later applicants who had not applied by the date of the first round.

School Acknowledgement

Cypress College has signed and returned the certification and agreement form, and intends to use the funds to provide at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students.

Funds Available to Students

The total amount of HEERF funds remaining available to students is $0.

Funds Disbursed/Approved to Students

Amount distributed to students as of November 18, 2020 is $3,573,967.

*Estimated number of students eligible for HEERF: 22,915

Total students disbursed funds: 7,152

Amount of Grant: Eligible students are awarded $500 in emergency aid.

  • CHERFM: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – Minority Serving Institutions
  • CHERFI: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – Institutional Portion

Instructions/Announcements for Students

The college first announced the aid to students in an email with a link to an application. The college also posted several general announcements to all students informing them of the funds being available and how to apply for the funds. The information was shared broadly on the college’s COVID-19 website, the college weekly newsletter, as well as the Financial Aid Office website, the Financial Aid Office Facebook page and the college’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. These are communications the college used to reach students:

IRS Instructions for Cares Act Funds for Tax Purposes

Institutional Portion – Quarterly Reports