Student Emergency Assistance Funding FAQs Summer 2021

1. How do I apply?
Access application for funding at https://bit.ly/SEAF-Summer2021. The application will be available at 5/10/21, 10am.

2. When can I submit my application?
For Summer Term 2021, the application is open May 10th at 10:00 AM EDT through August 2nd at 5:00 PM EDT. Only emergency expenses incurred during or applicable to the summer 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 AND applying for summer federal aid prior to applying for this emergency assistance. Go to: https://www2.gmu.edu/financial-aid/summer-aid

3. 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 and summer aid 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 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. 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 limits and also 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. To start, enter the Date and Time; for Location, you can select “Unknown;” and for Building and Specific Location, you can select “None.” You will then answer some eligibility questions and identify if your funding request is due to COVID-19. You are asked to identify your funding request by checking categories of expenses. You are also asked to provide an explanation of your current financial hardship. Next, you will enter your Name and Role (student) – your G Number, Phone Number and Email Address will automatically populate. Finally, you will sign the application and hit SAVE first before submitting the form.

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 lease showing your name, monthly rate and number of roommates
  • Utilities – Submit copy of each current utility bill showing due date and amount due
  • Technology/Equipment – Submit copy of current wi-fi bill and/or the estimate of equipment cost
  • Medical Expense – Submit copy of current 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 current 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/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 May 10, 2021

8. How do I submit my documentation?
You will 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 space on 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 message pop-up 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 to provide additional information to support your request and will be given a deadline to send the documentation. Please allow up to 21 business days for a response from the committee.

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 reapply for additional funding. In addition, if you received prior funding support 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 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 at https://www2.gmu.edu/financial-aid/contact-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 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 refunded 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 (703) 993-2484 or follow the instructions at: https://studentaccounts.gmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/DirectDepositGuide.pdf. You will need to submit a form: https://studentaccounts.gmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/DirectDepositAuthorization.pdf.

13. Why do I have to supply a W-9 or W-8BEN form?
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.

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 submitted 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.