Carnegie Mellon University

Financial Assistance Related to COVID-19

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds & Tartan Emergency Support Fund

Carnegie Mellon recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has created financial hardships for many students and families. We also realize that the breadth of such impacts may vary, and so whatever the situation, we want you to know that CMU is here to listen and to help however we can. This webpage is dedicated to providing information about emergency support for students and families who have experienced financial disruptions as a result of COVID-19. 

The university received Higher Education Emergency Relief Grant Funding (HEERF) through the U.S. federal government's Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) to help mitigate financial impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Portions of this funding are designated for awarding emergency grants to eligible students requiring financial assistance. These emergency grants do not need to be repaid.

The Tartan Emergency Support Fund (TESF) has been established through the generosity of alumni, friends of the university, Undergraduate Student Senate, Graduate Student Assembly, and student organizations to provide enrolled CMU students with emergency funds to assist with unforeseen expenses related to pandemic disruptions. 

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF)

Under Section 18004(a)(1) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES or HEERF I) Act and Section 314(a)(1) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA or HEERF II), emergency grants are available to assist eligible students with any component of the student's cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, technology, health care, or child care.

March 2021 Update.  Eligible CMU students will be invited to apply for student emergency grants by completing the simple application process. Upon receipt and processing of applications, student emergency grants of $100 to $1,000 will be awarded to students based on their degree level, previously demonstrated financial need or individual circumstance.  

Invited students will have the option to decline emergency grant funds to allow them to be offered to other students requiring more immediate or substantial financial assistance.

Students requiring additional financial assistance should reach out to their HUB liaison to discuss their specific needs.

(Updated December 27, 2020)

The University will award student emergency grant aid in accordance with current federal, state and institutional rules and regulations. Eligibility requirements have changed from time to time based on subsequent legislation and/or guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. Refer to this page for the most up-to-date eligibility requirements.

For HEERF I Student Emergency Grants (funds made available under CARES): 

  • Students must be enrolled in a degree or non-degree undergraduate, master's or doctoral program on or after March 27, 2020.
  • Students must be eligible for federal financial aid as described in Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA).  To verify your eligibility, Carnegie Mellon asks that you submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more information on how to apply, see our financial aid application instructions for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Students must have incurred costs related to tuition, housing, food, travel, technology, health care, and/or child care resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

For HEERF II Student Emergency Grants (funds made available under CRRSAA): 

  • Students must be enrolled in a degree or non-degree undergraduate, master's or doctoral program on or after March 27, 2020.
  • Students must be US citizens or permanent residents. To verify your eligibility, Carnegie Mellon asks that you submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more information on how to apply, see our financial aid application instructions for undergraduate and graduate
  • Students must have incurred costs related to tuition, housing, food, travel, technology, health care, and/or child care resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Students who are not eligible for a HEERF student emergency grant will be considered for other sources of emergency funds, such as the Tartan Emergency Support Fund (TESF).

Section 314(a)(1) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act provides students with more options to utilize their student emergency grants.

Effective March 2021, students have the option to (1) apply student emergency grant aid to unpaid charges on their student account; or (2) receive a direct payment based on their student account refunding preferences. 

Students who elect to receive a direct payment are strongly urged to utilize electronic refunding. In doing so, they will have access to their grant aid up to 14 days faster than those receiving paper checks.

Tartan Emergency Support Fund (TESF)

The Tartan Emergency Support Fund was established through the generosity of alumni, friends of the university, Undergraduate Student Senate, Graduate Student Assembly, and student organizations to provide enrolled CMU students with emergency funds to assist with unforeseeable expenses related to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this fund is to cover unexpected circumstances needing immediate assistance, such as moving expenses, rent, food, medication, and other personal health and safety needs. Tuition costs are not eligible for TESF grants. The Tartan Emergency Support fund does not require repayment; however, students receiving these funds are responsible for any potential tax implications. This fund supplements the existing Emergency Student Loan (ESL) program administered by the Office of the Dean of Students. Both of these fund options will utilize the existing ESL form to receive and process requests. The ESL form is being used for student convenience allowing 24/7 submission and tracking of TESF requests.

Important Update: Beginning August 1, 2020

  • If you are not experiencing an immediate need (see above for details) and are eligible to apply and/or have applied for federal financial aid, you must first meet with your HUB Liaison to discuss your financial situation and total cost of attendance concerns (e.g., monthly expenses such as rent and utilities for the 2020-2021 Academic Year). Following this discussion, you may submit a TESF request and your HUB Liaison will contact the Office of the Dean of Students regarding any immediate needs that are COVID-19 related and eligible for TESF consideration.
  • Prior distribution of TESF grant funding will be considered should a student apply for future or repeat grants. Although we do not have a cap on funding per student, we are committed to preserving access to funds for students in need and may need to limit allocations.

To apply, either call the Office of the Dean of Students at 412-268-2075 to speak with a staff member or complete the online ESL application noting any COVID-19 specific impact.