CARES Act Application Tips for Higher Education

Nearly every college and university in the country is navigating the uncertain waters of the national coronavirus pandemic. Funding support is being made available to colleges and universities through the multiple facets of the CARES Act. But institutions must fill out an application to secure them. Not surprisingly, like most federal programs, knowing some tips and suggestions can make the process a bit easier. We share our experience in helping institutions through their application submissions.

Many higher education administrators have been discussing the application process and how to begin. At the IEHE, we’ve already worked our way through the application. Here, we share our tips with those who might find it daunting to even initiate the process.

Image of the US Capital building and text that reads 2020 CARES Act Aid Available. The CARES Act aid is available to higher education institutions.

Navigating the CARES Act Application

The Department of Education updated their website late on Friday (April 10) with instructions on how to apply for the CARES Act aid money. Based on our experience with the process, here are some ways you can make submitting an application easier.

  • Find someone at your campus that already has a account. It will expedite the process to leverage existing expertise. (Otherwise — add a few hours of time to the task).
  • Search on “ED-GRANTS-041020-003” when in the portal. This is the higher ed grant.
  • Per the DOE website, this grant opportunity is for 50% of funds – for emergency aid to students. Be sure to fill out your forms with the 50% amount (not the full amount).
  • Once familiar with the portal, it took about two hours to complete the application. Have the completed and signed certification and agreement from the institution’s authorized signer.
  • The application will require teamwork to answer all of the questions. 
  • Funds will be available in the institution’s G5 system. Alert your team members who have G5 system access to be on the lookout for the funds after the application is submitted. Wait time is unknown. Check your G5 system daily after submission.
  • Download a copy of the completed applications forms (on the View application tab). Save these in a shared folder for documentation. The submitter will receive a confirmation email.
  • There is a status tracker at the top of the application portal that will let you know where your are in the application process.


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The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education (IEHE) innovates and improves higher education standards through our strategic research, publicly available resources, and partnerships with colleges and universities. We provide extensive expertise on data strategy, IPEDS, institutional research and student success to drive institutional effectiveness.