Stay Mason Support Fund/Student Emergency Assistance Funding FAQs Fall 2021

  1. How do I apply?
    Access application for funding. The application is entitled “George Mason University Incident Reporting Form.”
  2. When can I submit my application?
    For Fall Term 2021, the application is open August 16th at 10:00 AM ET through December 8th at 5:00 PM ET. Only emergency expenses incurred during or applicable to the fall term can be reviewed. We will not accept any past semester or future semester expenses.
  3. What funding is available?
    This process is for emergencies or unexpected financial challenges, 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. All federal financial aid options must be exhausted first, including borrowing subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
  4. How do I qualify for funding?
    To qualify for funding, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

    • Enrolled in at least 1 credit hour in a degree-seeking program at GMU during the academic term for which the emergency funding application is made
    • Exhausted all other sources of financial assistance, including all subsidized and unsubsidized loans if eligible for federal aid
    • Earned at least 12 credits on the Mason campus prior to applying
    • Have a minimum GPA of 2.00
    • Maintain satisfactory 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
  5. Is there a maximum amount I can apply for?
    There is no limit on how much you can request. However, the amount of funding awarded is determined by the review committee. 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 funding limits and the availability of funds.
  6. What should I know about completing my application?
    You will access the application via Guardian, our new platform, and follow these steps:

    • Enter Date and Time; for Location, you can select “Unknown;” and for Building and Specific Location, you can select “None.”
    • Answer eligibility questions and identify if your funding request is due to COVID-19.
    • Enter the amount requested AND identify your funding needs by checking categories of expenses that apply.
    • Provide a detailed explanation of your current financial hardship (what is your situation).
    • Enter your Name and Role (student) – your G Number, Phone Number, and Email Address should automatically populate.
    • Sign the application and hit SAVE first and then hit Submit.
  7. What documentation do I need to supply with my application?
    The documentation you submit will depend on what you are requesting. For example, if you request assistance with:

    • Rent/Housing – Submit copy of current lease or mortgage statement showing your name, the monthly rent/payment due, and the number of housemates. If your name is not on lease or mortgage OR if you have no lease, supply signed statement from owner or account holder that confirms you live at the premises and how much you contribute to the rent/payment per month.
    • Utilities/Phone/Wifi/Internet – Submit copy of each current bill showing service provider, your name, due date, and amount due. If bill is not in your name, supply signed statement from owner or account holder that confirms your use of that service and how much you contribute monthly to each bill.
    • Computer/Laptop – Submit copy of current bill or cost estimate which shows provider and cost (e.g., phone or computer screenshot, invoice, receipt).
    • Technology/Equipment – Submit copy of current bill or cost estimate for your technology or equipment need that shows provider and cost (e.g., phone or computer screenshot, receipt).
    • Books/Course Materials – Submit copy of current receipt or cost estimate for each item connected with Mason course (e.g., phone or computer screenshot, bookstore printout, department invoice).
    • Health Insurance – Submit copy of current bill or receipt which shows provider, your name, amount due/paid, and coverage term.
    • Medical Expense – Submit copy of current bill or statement showing service provider, your name, and account balance due after insurance.
    • Car Payment/Car Insurance/Car Repair – Submit copy of current bill showing provider, your name, due date, and amount due. For car repair, the expense must be unexpected or an emergency; funding is not available for routine maintenance or vehicle or tire replacement.
    • Childcare – Supply copy of current arrangement with your childcare provider including cost.
    • Food/Groceries – You do not need to supply receipts for purchased food or groceries.
    • Tuition and Fees – Funding for tuition and fees is limited and reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
    • DACA Renewal Fee – Submit copy of current EAD card which shows your name and expiration date.
    • Other Expenses – Submit copy of each current bill or receipt showing your name, due date, and amount due. If damaged or stolen equipment, supply copy of police report and purchase receipt. Examples of other expenses: unexpected emergency travel, special coursework needed for degree program, Mason program fee not already covered.IMPORTANT – We need to see FULL copies of bills, receipts, statements, cost estimates, and any other documentation. All documents must identify your name, the provider name (e.g., Verizon, Geico, ATT, etc), amount due or cost, due dates (if any), and what the document is for. 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/statements)
    • Credit card statements showing charges for items requested (must supply actual bill/invoice)
    • Medical appointment scheduling or prescription orders (must have actual bills)
    • Letters from potential landlords with proposed rental terms (must have actual signed lease or current signed statement from landlord or owner confirming rental, term and monthly rent)
    • Bills or receipts dated prior to August 3, 2021.
  8. How do I submit my documentation?
    Upload your documentation under the “Supporting Documentation” section of the application. You can Click or Drag & Drop documents. Once uploaded, you can see your documents listed in the space provided. While there is no limit to the number of items you can submit, we suggest you carefully select current items to match the categories of expenses requested. Do not send your documentation via email. We will only accept documentation submitted through the application. Files over 25 MB will not be accepted; PDF displayed documents are preferred. HEIC-formatted documents should be converted to PDFs before uploading.
  9. What happens after I submit my application?
    When you hit “SUBMIT FORM,” you will receive a confirmation pop-up message letting you know your application was submitted and giving you a Case Number. Make sure you record that Case Number. Once submitted, your application is reviewed by a committee of University Life staff. You may be asked by the committee via email to provide additional information to support your request, and you will be given a deadline of one week to submit that documentation. Please allow up to 21 business days for a response from the committee. You will submit the additional documentation via a link provided in the email.
  10. What if I received prior emergency assistance funding?
    The review committee will take into consideration all prior awards for emergency assistance including proactive awards.  If a student is granted a proactive award during the current term, the review committee will offset an award for emergency assistance by the amount of the proactive award. If you received funding during the present term, you cannot be considered for additional funding. In addition, if you received prior funding for an item already, the committee may determine that the need has been met.
  11. What are proactive awards?
    These awards are administered and awarded by the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA). OSFA will determine if you are eligible for a COVID-19 CARES Act grant, which is separate from the Stay Mason/emergency assistance funding through University Life.  If you are eligible, Financial Aid will email you.  You will then need to submit your acceptance and certification form to Financial Aid before your award can be paid out.  If you have questions regarding financial assistance and the COVID-19 CARES Act proactive awards, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid.
  12. How will I receive the funds if approved?
    How awards are distributed will depend on the source of the funding.  The University will determine the source and method of fund delivery. Students cannot make special requests for disbursement of funds.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 by check and 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, unless the award is designated for tuition and fees which means the award will be posted to your student account to pay the balance of your tuition and fees.Funds posted to your student account will first be applied toward any balance owed for tuition and fees; after the balance is paid, you will be refunded the remaining award amount. If you do not have a balance, you will be refunded a check in the full amount of the award. Funds via direct deposit to your personal bank account will be distributed within five-to-seven 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, follow these instructions to submit a direct deposit authorization. For questions,  contact Student Accounts or call (703) 993-2000.
  13. Why do I have to supply a W-9 or W-8BEN form and a Tax Accountability Letter?
    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 Foundation also requires completion of a Tax Accountability Letter. 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 tax form and a link to download your completed form. You will also be emailed a link to access and complete the Tax Accountability Letter.
  14. How many applications for funding can I submit while at Mason?
    Students can apply and be granted assistance through the emergency funding process up to a maximum of 3 times during their undergraduate/graduate enrollment at Mason. Only one application for funding can be considered per term.
  15. If I was denied funding, can I reapply or ask for reconsideration?
    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. You can however apply in a future term for funding if you face an unexpected emergency at that time.
  16. Does my award count as taxable income?
    This funding is considered “institutional grant assistance.” You should report this as you would any grants you have/will receive. You will need to consult with your tax advisor. You will not receive a form 1099 or other tax form from the University. 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. If your award is paid through the George Mason University Foundation, you will be asked to complete and sign a Tax Accountability Letter prior to being disbursed your award.
  17. My situation has changed since submitting my request, and I need additional funding to stay enrolled but I cannot reapply. What do I do?
    We recognize that students experience unexpected challenges, and Mason 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.