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CSU CARES Provides Financial Relief for Students Experiencing Hardships Due to COVID-19

Michelle McCarthy

Updated: 3/10/22 11:30 a.m. PST​

To date, $1.2 billion has been distributed.

A group of students discussing something important

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Last month, Elijah Marshall found himself in a tough spot with nowhere to turn. The aerospace engineering student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona was struggling financially and didn't know how he was going to stay afloat during the final months of the semester. That is, until he received funding through the CSU CARES program, which offers emergency grants to ​students experiencing hardships directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Expenses might include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and childcare.

“When I first started attending college about 10 years ago, my family was homeless," Marshall recalls. “I cannot count the amount of times we were evicted, the number of friends I lived with or the places I've slept. While I'm no longer homeless, I still lack the financial stability and support of my family and have struggled to make it this far. That relief fund absolutely saved me in my time of need."

And Marshall isn't alone. Enrolled CSU undergraduate, graduate and professional students who are not attending a completely online program may receive emergency grants through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized by Congress and supplemented with CSU campus funds. The amount varies by campus and by student, depending on campus resources and student circumstances.

To date, CSU campuses have granted students $1.2 billion in student aid relief funding.

What Marshall received was enough to keep him on track to graduate this spring. And to sweeten the deal, he recently accepted a full-time position with Northrop Grumman, which will start after he collects his diploma.

“I can't believe it," he says with a huge smile. “I think back to when I was in high school and my family was going through the thick of it. I would've never thought in a million years I would end up becoming an aerospace engineer. One day, I'll have my own sons or daughters and I'll be able to give them all the things I w​asn't able to have."

Visit the CSU's Coronavirus hub for more information about how the university has responded to the Coronavirus pandemic.​ ​