Student Emergency Assistance Funding FAQs

1. How do I apply?
A. Complete your application for funding at https://ulife.gmu.edu/student-emergency-assistance-funding/.

2. When can I submit my application?
A. Between August 17  and December 11, 2020 (up to 11:59 PM).

3. What funding is available?
A. This process is for emergency funding designed to provide temporary, short-term financial assistance. Emergency funding is a last resort for students who need it most and should not be considered part of a student’s financial planning for the future.

4 .Where do the funds come from?
A.  Emergency funding is made possible through the generous support of George Mason University and donors committed to helping students succeed. Funds may be sustained by continued contributions from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the University. Funding may also be available from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

5. How do I qualify for funding?
A. To qualify for funding up to $999, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in at least 1 credit hour during academic term in a degree-seeking program at GMU (part-time/full-time and graduate/undergraduate)
  • Demonstrate an unexpected financial hardship resulting from an emergency or crisis
  • Provide documentation to support the request as may be required by the University

To qualify for funding $1,000 and greater, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in at least 1 credit hour during academic term in a degree-seeking program at GMU (part-time/full-time and graduate/undergraduate)
  • Exhausted all other sources of financial assistance, including all subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Completed at least 12 credit hours of coursework at GMU prior to Fall term 2020
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.00
  • Maintain academic progress (2.0 GPA as undergrad/3.0 GPA as graduate + 67% completion rate)
  • Demonstrate an unexpected financial hardship resulting from an emergency or crisis
  • Provide documentation to support the request as may be required by the University

6. What can I ask for?
A. Funding is available to assist with unexpected individual challenges and/or special circumstances such as loss of housing, overdue utility bills, loss of childcare, emergency medical expenses, and non-working or stolen technology/equipment needed to ensure continuity of learning at Mason.  Tuition and fee funding will only be approved on a case-by-case basis. See lists at https://ulife.gmu.edu/student-emergency-assistance-funding/.You should think carefully about your emergency situation and thoroughly identify in your request all items that represent your challenges at the time of application, along with supporting documentation.  You will not be able to amend your application once submitted.

7. What can’t be funded?
A. Funding is not available for prior incurred expenses, anticipated expenses, reimbursement of expenses such as tuition and fees already paid, expenses of others and pets, student loan payments, credit card expenses, study abroad costs, legal fines and expenses, non-essential bills, funds for replacement of lost or stolen items (unless the stolen item is essential to Mason coursework), and parking tickets or library fines. See list at https://ulife.gmu.edu/student-emergency-assistance-funding/.

8. Is there a maximum amount I can apply for? How much funding can I receive?
A. There is no limit on how much you can request. You will need to submit documentation to support each expense for which you seek assistance. In making awards, the review committee is subject to federal and university guidelines and also the availability of funds.

9. What documentation do I need to supply with my application?
A. The documentation you submit will depend on what you are requesting. For example, if you request assistance with:

  • Rent/Housing – Submit copy of lease showing your name, monthly rate and number of roommates
  • Utilities – Submit copy of each utility bill showing due date and amount due
  • Technology/Equipment – Submit copy of wi-fi bill and/or the estimate of equipment cost
  • Medical Expense – Submit copy of bill showing balance due after insurance
  • Books/Course Materials – Submit copy of receipt or estimate of expense connected with Mason course (e.g., mobile phone or computer screenshot, bookstore printout, department invoice)
  • Car/Car Insurance – Submit copy of bill showing due date, amount due, and you as insured
  • Stolen Equipment – Submit copies of police report and purchase receipt

Make sure you have appropriate documentation that can justify each item of your request and that all documentation supplied is either in your name or is utilized by you. Emergency assistance is not available for expenses belonging to others.

Documentation that is NOT considered appropriate to support your request:

  • Bank account statements showing debits for rent, utilities, etc. (must have actual bills)
  • Medical appointment scheduling or prescription orders (must have actual bills)
  • Letters from potential landlords with proposed rental terms (must have actual signed lease)
  • Bills or receipts dated prior to August 17, 2020

10. How do I submit my documentation?
A. You will submit your documentation via the link provided in the application for funding. If the link does not work when you click it, copy and paste the link to your browser. Do not send your documentation via email. We will only accept documentation submitted through the link on the application.

11. When do I need to submit my supporting documentation?
A. You should upload all documentation to support your request when you submit your application. If you are asked to provide additional documentation, you will be given one week to provide the additional information. After one week, if you have not submitted the supporting documentation, the review committee will not be able to properly consider your request and will close your application. You will not be able to apply again during the Fall 2020 term.

12. What happens after I submit my application?
A. When you hit “SUBMIT,” you will receive a confirmation email letting you know your application was properly submitted. Make sure you get that email. Once submitted, your application is reviewed by a committee of University Life staff. You may be asked by the committee to submit additional information to support your request and be given a deadline to send the documentation.

13.  When will I hear about my application?
A. The goal is to review an application and respond with a decision within 14 days from date of submission. In some cases, the review committee may need additional information and will send a request to the student. The student has 1 week to submit the requested information. Thereafter, a decision will be emailed as promptly as possible.

When an extremely high volume of applications occurs, the review committee may need to take more time than anticipated to review and process applications and will do so as quickly as possible.

If a student has not heard any response within the 14-day period after submission, the student is free to send an email to ulife@gmu.edu to inquire about the application status.

14. Why am I referred to Financial Aid?
A.  An application for emergency funding $1,000 and greater through this process will not be considered until the student has exhausted all other sources of financial assistance, including all subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Students who apply for assistance up to $999 are not subject to this eligibility requirement.

The review committee looks at the amount of financial aid available to students in reviewing requests for emergency assistance. Students are encouraged to work with, and will be referred to, the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss all options available to them.  Students not eligible for financial aid are welcome to apply for emergency assistance.

15. What are proactive awards?
A.  These awards are administered by the Office of Student Financial Aid. Financial Aid will determine if you are eligible for a COVID-19 CARES Act grant.  If you are eligible, they will email you.  You will then need to submit a separate application through Financial Aid to be considered for that funding. If you have questions regarding financial assistance and the COVID-19 CARES Act awards, please email Student Financial Aid at finaid@gmu.edu.

16. How will I receive the funds if approved?
A. How awards are distributed will depend on the source of the funding.  The University will determine the method of fund delivery.

If the award is funded through Stay Mason, the award is processed by Student Accounts and will be posted to your student account. If funds come through the CARES Act (not a proactive award), the award will be processed by Student Accounts and is distributed either by direct deposit to your personal bank account or mailed to you. If the award comes through the George Mason University Foundation, the award is processed by the Foundation and is disbursed by check and mailed directly to your address on file with the University.

Funds posted to your student account will first be applied toward any balance owed for tuition and fees. If you do not have a balance, you will be issued a check in the full amount of the award.  Funds via direct deposit to your personal bank account will be distributed within five business days if you previously set up direct deposit. If you do not have direct deposit, a check will be mailed to your address on file with the University. To set up direct deposit, contact Student Accounts at saccount@gmu.edu or call (703) 993-2484.

17. Why do I have to supply a W-9 or W-8BEN form?
A. Pursuant to IRS guidelines, we are required to collect a W-9 form or a W-8BEN form for emergency assistance awards funded through the George Mason University Foundation. The W-9 form applies to students who have a social security number issued by the U.S. The W-8BEN form applies to students who do not have a U.S.-issued social security number. If you receive an award funded through the Foundation, you will be emailed the link to access the appropriate form and a link to download your completed form.

18. Can I submit a second application during the Fall?
A. No, only one application may be submitted during the Fall term.

19.  How many applications for funding can I submit?
A. Students can apply and be granted assistance through the emergency funding process up to a maximum of three times during their undergraduate/graduate enrollment at Mason.

20. What if I received prior emergency assistance funding?
A. The review committee will take into consideration all prior awards for emergency assistance including Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 awards and proactive awards.  If a student is granted a proactive award during the Fall 2020 term, the review committee may offset an award for emergency assistance by the amount of the proactive award.

If you received funding during the present term, you cannot reapply for additional funding.

21. If I was denied funding, can I reapply or ask for reconsideration?
A. No, you cannot reapply, and there is no reconsideration available for your submitted request. The decision of the review committee with respect to each emergency assistance request is final.

22.  Does my award count as income?
A. This funding is considered “institutional grant assistance.” You should report this as you would any grants you have/will receive.

23.  Do I have to put this award on my taxes?
A. You will need to consult with your tax advisor. Keep the award email you receive just in case you need to provide it when you submit your taxes or when you fill out your FAFSA next year.

24.  I will be attending Mason this fall.  Do I qualify for emergency funding?
A. Congratulations on your acceptance to Mason!!! To qualify for emergency assistance this fall, a student must be currently enrolled and have completed 12 credit hours of coursework at Mason.

25.  Do I have to repay the money I was awarded?
A. No, this emergency funding award is a grant and does not need to be repaid.

26.  Can I get funding for tuition and fees?
A. Generally, no. However, in certain circumstances, students are awarded funding for tuition and fee payments because they are on payment plans and need help making their final payments for the present term OR they have borrowed the full amount of loans available through financial aid.  You are not being penalized for paying your tuition and fees in full at the beginning of the semester.

27.  If I was coded as non-degree, can I receive funding?
A. No. To be eligible for emergency assistance funding, students must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at Mason.  If you feel you are coded incorrectly in Mason’s system, you will need to speak with the Registrar’s Office. Contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@gmu.edu or call (703) 993-2441.

28.  Can I pay an expense up front and then ask to be reimbursed?
A. If the expense is a living or school-related expense in your name that you hope to be reimbursed for, then you may pay that expense up front to get by temporarily and submit the expense and documentation in your request. If approved, you can use the award then to reimburse yourself. However, there is no guarantee that your request will be approved and that an award will be granted.

29.  If I was denied funding because I was not current on my tuition payments, can I make a payment today and be reconsidered for assistance?
A. No. The review committee’s decision is final. Your application will not be reviewed again since at the time you submitted your request, you were not current on payments.

30.  My friend received an award but I did not – why not?
A. There are a variety of factors that are considered when applications for emergency funding are reviewed, and not every student’s circumstances are the same.  You should not compare the information you supplied and the decision you received versus what your peers supplied and may have received.

31.  My situation has changed, and I no longer need the funding I requested.  What do I do?
A. If you have not received an award, send an email to ulife@gmu.edu indicating that you do not need the funding requested. Your application will be closed, and a confirmation email will be sent to you.

If you have received an award and no longer need the funding, you should return the award to Student Accounts. Once we receive notice that the funds have been returned, a confirmation email will be sent to you.

32.  My situation has changed since submitting my request, and I need additional funding to stay enrolled but I cannot reapply. What do I do?
A. We recognize that students experience unexpected challenges, and Mason’s University Life is committed to helping students navigate through those challenges. While this funding process does not allow for reapplications, we encourage you to contact the Stay Mason Student Support Fund at smfund@gmu.edu and identify your change in circumstances. There is no guarantee that funding will be available, but there may be other resources and options that can be explored to assist you.

33.  Why can’t every student receive assistance?
A. We recognize that this is a challenging time for students. There is limited funding available, and there are many requests from students for assistance. There is no guarantee that any student who applies will be granted funding.  We are doing our best to help as many students as we can.