Student Financial Services

Pandemic-related student funding

Pandemic-related federal funding — direct grants of money — is available to many University of Southern Maine (USM) students. Many students will qualify for funds through the CARES Act. Those who are not eligible for funds through the CARES Act can apply for funds through the USM’s Student Emergency Fund.

What is the CARES Act?

The U.S. Government developed the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide the resources needed for costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act provides funds directly to higher education institutions to support pandemic-related costs and for grants to students.
How will the University utilize CARES Act funds?

The University has received $4.6 million in CARES Act funds, which are being utilized in accordance with our mission to be Student Focused Every Day. 

We will disburse approximately $2.3 million in the form of direct aid grants to students.

The remaining half, approximately $2.3 million, is provided for institutional aid, including COVID-19-related expenses incurred by the university. $1.6 million will be used to reimburse the University after refunding Room & Board fees to students earlier this Spring. The remainder is allocated to classroom technology enhancements and other remote-learning investments for the benefit of delivering enhanced instruction to students on an intermodal basis. 

How and when will direct aid be disbursed to students?

USM will disburse approximately $2.3 million in the form of direct aid grants to students.

Based on a formula announced in late-April by the University of Maine System, 85 percent of those funds will be awarded starting the week of May 4 to USM degree-seeking students.

Per the University System formula, USM will transfer the remaining 15 percent of CARES Act funds (approximately $460,000) to an emergency relief fund for eligible students experiencing significant need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Which students are eligible for CARES Act direct aid funds?

CARES Act funds will be disbursed to USM degree-seeking students, who:

  • A) Have already met Title IV federal aid eligibility by having a completed FAFSA on file
  • B) Can self-certify that they meet eligibility requirements by completing a system form in MaineStreet Student Center. This form can be found on the To Do List.

In compliance with federal and university system guidelines, international, DACA, non-degree, early college, and university employee students, as well as students who were enrolled in all-online programs prior to the pandemic, are not eligible for this CARES Act assistance. 

Please note, if you are not eligible for the CARES Act funds but have a financial hardship, you may be eligible for funds through USM’s Student Emergency Fund (see below).

How much are students eligible to receive in CARES Act direct aid funds? 

  • Eligible Undergraduate Students will receive $170, $270, or $370, depending on the number of credit hours for which they were enrolled in the 2020 spring semester. 
  • Eligible Graduate Students will receive either $270 or $370 depending on the number of credit hours for which they were enrolled in the 2020 spring semester.

How will students receive their CARES Act direct aid funds?

CARES Act direct aid funds will be disbursed to eligible students via MaineStreet student accounts. 

Eligible students will receive these funds in the form of a refund check or direct deposit. 

How is the University supporting students who are not eligible for direct aid funds under the CARES Act?

We encourage students who are not eligible for CARES Act dollars but still have financial need to apply for assistance through USM’s Student Emergency Fund.

USM's Student Emergency Fund

Students may request support from the Student Emergency Fund for an emergency situation, or for unanticipated and compelling circumstances that jeopardize their ability to successfully continue in school.

As of early May, the University has provided students nearly $50,000 in emergency financial support.

Students seeking emergency assistance will be asked to complete a short application form describing the basis and amount of need. 

How funds are distributed:

  • Student Emergency Funds will be provided in the form of grants. 
  • The grants awards are not considered loans and do not require repayment. 
  • Award amounts typically range from $100 to $500. 
  • Awards will be determined by a committee based on the individual need. Decisions regarding the amount and disbursement of funds are made on a case-by-case basis. 

First Responders-Essential Workers Scholarship

The First Responders-Essential Workers Scholarship will be offered to 50 incoming and returning USM students who have been serving in first-responder roles or providing front-line critical services during the pandemic. Learn more.