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COVID-19

COVID-19 Emergency Grant

The United States Federal Government has enacted the CARES Act as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of this act allows for students to receive financial support for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19 (including expenses in a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, technology, healthcare, childcare and course materials). Students enrolled in the classroom (not solely enrolled in an online program prior to the COVID outbreak) may apply for the emergency grant funded through the CARES Act. In addition, a student must be U.S. citizen and eligible to receive Title IV federal financial aid, normally supported through filing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

COVID-19 emergency grants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the COVID-19 Emergency Appeals Committee with amounts up to a maximum of $1,000 per student. Students must attest to the need for the grant in the application. Emergency grants will be issued to GCSOM students via direct deposit (for students who already have direct deposit in place) or paper check.

Please note: The COVID-19 emergency grant form is different than GCSOM’s normal procedures for special circumstance consideration, found here.

Application process

To ensure accurate and timely payments

In order to ensure accurate and timely payment of the CARES Emergency Grant, please have your correct and up-to-date banking information on file. All questions regarding payment information can be sent to the Bursar’s Office by emailing bursar@som.geisinger.edu.

Please follow the below instructions to update direct deposit information (the quickest way to receive your payment). If you are not providing direct deposit information, please follow instructions to update “BILL” address field within Empower Web to receive a paper check.

To update banking information: Please fill out a direct deposit form (leave Lawson ID blank) found with the following link: GCSOM Direct Deposit Form – Students. This form along with a voided check can be emailed to bursar@som.geisinger.edu. Please note forms submitted without a voided check will not be added.

To update a mailing address for a refund check: Log into Empower Web > Student Records tab > Update Personal Information > “BILL” address field must be updated/added.

CARES Act FAQ

What is the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine is eligible to receive Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEERF) Funds under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act directs institutions of higher education (“institutions”) to use no less than 50 percent of funds received under Sections 18004(a)(1) and 18004(c) of the CARES Act to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

What are the emergency funds to be used for?
These grant funds are to be used by students to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare and childcare.)

Who is eligible to receive funds?
Any student enrolled in seat (and not fully enrolled online) as of March 13, 2020, and who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants. If a student has filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then the student has demonstrated eligibility to participate in programs under Section 484 the HEA. Students who have not filed a FAFSA but who are eligible to file a FAFSA also may receive emergency financial aid grants but must file a FAFSA to determine eligibility. The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include but are not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting. If you are unsure of your eligibility status, please contact the Financial Aid Office at financialaid@som.geisinger.edu.

How does an eligible student receive funds?
Once you determine your eligibility, please complete the emergency grant application. The application simply asks you to indicate a brief description of the reason of your need for the funds and your intended uses of the funds. You must sign and date the application and submit to financialaid@som.geisnger.edu for review by our COVID-19 committee. 

When will I receive the funds?
Once all applications are submitted, the COVID-19 committee will review your application and let you know within five business days via your school email account.

How will I receive the funds?
Funds will be issued to eligible students who have applied using the process outlined above either via direct deposit or paper check.

Are these funds taxable?
No.  Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant is not includible in your gross income. Because the emergency financial aid grant is not includible in your gross income, you cannot claim any deduction or credit for expenses paid with the grant including the tuition and fees deduction, the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit. See section 139(h) of the Internal Revenue Code.

What if I have other questions?
Additional information regarding the HEERF can be found here.

If you have any questions, contact the Financial Aid Office at financialaid@som.geisinger.edu.

Information for the FAQs section was made available from Department of Education, Geisinger Lewistown School of Nursing and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.