Financial Aid

UNCW Clocktower

COVID-19, CARES Act, & Financial Aid  

Due to the evolving nature of COVID-19, we understand that this is a time of uncertainty for many of our Seahawk families.  The following information should be useful in explaining what additional financial resources are available to you during this time of need. 

The Federal Government provided funding to support both student and the institution (UNCW).  The right sidebar includes student communications and Federal reporting requirements.

  1. Federal CARES Act HEERF Funding (beginning Spring 2020)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which provides emergency funding to universities to assist students affected by the campus disruptions caused by COVID-19.

UNCW has received HEERF funding and has established the CARES Act Emergency Grant Fund to distribute grants to eligible students who incurred unexpected expenses due to COVID-19-related disruptions. These funds may be used to pay for expenses such as housing, food, technology needs, childcare, medical expenses and other costs resulting from the campus disruption.  Cash grants for our highest need students (per FAFSA) were processed on 5/8/2020 and refunds are listed on the e-bill.  These refunds must be paid directly to the student and cannot be used to pay the student account balance.  An application for current students with related needs was open through June 1, and those grants and e-refunds were processed in mid-July.  The following were required to be eligible:

The following were required to be eligible:

  • A valid 19/20 or 20/21 FAFSA on file
  • Currently enrolled or on an approved leave of absence
  • Currently enrolled in a program that is not exclusively distance education
  • U.S. Citizen or Eligible noncitizen
  • Meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

On 10/6/2020, the remaining funds were exhausted and awarded to eligible new summer and fall admits who qualified for need (per FAFSA) and completed the SeaNet acknowledgement process.

CARES HEERF “2.0” funding is expected in early spring 2021.  Once available, details will be provided here and eligible students will be notified via e-mail accordingly.

  1. UNCW Student Emergency Grant

Thanks to UNCW donors and assistance from the UNC System, hundreds of emergency grants have been awarded to students since the pandemic hit in March 2020.  If you are a currently enrolled student in need, please complete this application. The University committee will work to prioritize requests based on need as fund are available.  

  1. 2020/21 Financial Aid Appeals

Appeals for COVID-19 related income losses were accepted June – November.  For any remaining income losses, submissions can be made after January 1, 2021.  The guide is here and the form will be made available on our website by January 2, 2021.  All financing options are listed here.

For any questions, please reach out to your financial aid counselor.  For all other campus Coronavirus updates, visit this link:


How will I receive the funding?

For students who have signed up for an e-refund on their e-bill account, funds will be directly deposited into their account of choice.  Otherwise, refund checks will be mailed.

When will I receive my refund?

All refunds have been processed and are reflected on the e-bill. Please allow at least three (3) business days from the date listed on the e-bill for receipt of your e-refund.

Does this funding reduce my financial aid?

No, this fund does not impact your financial aid in any way.  It’s a one-time grant that does not have to be paid back.

I just graduated.  Can I apply for the Federal CARES Act funding?

No.  You must be enrolled in an eligible degree/certificate program or an approved leave of absence.  If the Federal government provides new guidance later, students will be notified.

Can non-US Citizens apply for the Federal CARES Act funding?

No.  Citizens and eligible noncitizens are eligible.

What do I do with the funding if I determine I have no associated expenses as a result of COVID-19 campus disruptions? 

Did you have to pay for internet service, a laptop, or other hard/software after the campus shifted to on-line?  Did you lose the ability to work your summer on-campus job to help pay for expenses required to pay for school-related expenses?  Did you have to pay for moving or storage expenses?  Did you have to make plans to travel home (flight/gas)?  Did you return ‘home’ and still have expenses in Wilmington that continued?  Did you have to attend summer sessions because COVID-19 required that you withdraw from a course(s)?  Those are some examples of expenses related to the disruption of campus operations and we know that these could at least carry on throughout the summer (possibly fall).  If you will not have any associated expenses, you should return the unused funds to the Student Accounts Office and/or not complete the application.