Starting this week, more than 2,600 Fresno Pacific University students are receiving direct grants through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The act provides economic relief for those suffering from COVID-19’s effects on American society. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

The university is awarding $1.7 million to 2,650 eligible students. Individual awards range from $185-$1,480, with averages coming in at $735 for those enrolled in traditional undergraduate and bachelor’s degree completion programs, $495 for graduate and seminary students and $530 for students pursuing credentials. An additional $261,679 has been reserved to assist students with exceptional financial hardships.

Funds are meant to help students pay for tuition and fees, technology, health care, child care, course materials, rent, food, moving or other expenses. Disbursement started Thursday, April 30, 2020, with recipients being notified via email at their FPU account.

“The CARES Act check may be able to assist me in positive ways such as paying bills that I have to take care of on my own,” said Jalen Harris, sophomore criminology major from Fresno, “and it may also provide extra funds so that I will be able to purchase food and water for myself during this pandemic.”

FPU received a total of $4.1 million through the CARES Act, which stipulates half of whatever a college or university receives must go directly to students. The university is working out a plan with the U.S. Department of Education to use the rest of the grant.

Eligibility was based upon the requirements of the legislation, guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and criteria developed by FPU. Universities were directed to prioritize students whose family income is in the low- to low-middle categories.

Recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have a 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file at FPU and be enrolled in at least 1 unit as of April 22, 2020. Also considered were the term of students’ graduation, their account balance, current enrollment status and whether they were enrolled in an eligible program. Priority went to students with the highest demonstrated financial need, including those eligible for a Pell Grant, Cal Grant or employed in federal work-study jobs.

CARES funds set aside by FPU can also provide additional assistance of up to $500 to students facing significant unexpected hardship such as the inability to pay for food or rent due to loss of employment, medical expenses, etc. The university also has limited emergency funds of its own available for students who do not qualify for the CARES Act, including international students, undocumented students, those who did not apply for federal and state financial aid and students enrolled in distance-only degree programs.

Additional assistance funds will be awarded until they run out. For more information, students should contact FPU’s Student Financial Services Office at or 559-453-2041.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations