UK to receive $17 million in federal emergency funding


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Haley Blackburn

UPDATE: Nearly 2900 UK students have received emergency grants from the CARES act with a total of $4.1 million already distributed.

Kirsten Turner, associate provost for academic and student affairs, said that not every eligible student has received an email with the instructions to apply for the funding yet.

“We will have multiple rounds of emails slated to begin over the weekend or beginning of next week,” Turner said.

Student eligibility was determined by the amount of unmet need that students have. Turner said that the level of unmet need was determined by subtracting the student’s Expected Family Contribution listed on the FAFSA and any aid that the student has already received from the university’s official cost of attendance.

Turner said the university has not received the $8.9 million for institutional costs, but it is in the process.

The school has already identified $64 million of possible institutional costs that the $8.9 million could go toward once they receive it, Turner said. These costs include technology used to move the spring 2020 semester online, international evacuations and program cancellations, campus sanitation, COVID-19 testing and tracking, personal protective equipment, Spring 2020 housing and dining credits and summer school online scholarships.

UPDATE: UK announced that the process for releasing the $ 8.9 million in emergency CARES funding for students will begin today.

UK president Eli Capilouto detailed the process in an email on May 5 saying at least 5,500 students were eligible to receive emergency grants of up to $1500. This emergency funding can be used to cover “incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations”, such as “attendance costs, food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care,” Capilouto said. 

“We are emailing those students – starting today and continuing over the next few days – to alert them of their eligibility for funding and direct them on how to apply,” Capilouto said.

Once eligible students receive an email, they can fill out a special application for CARES funding through their myUK portal.

“The university will monitor applications and continue to disperse relief funds as they are available to eligible students beyond the initial 5,500,” Capilouto said.

Capilouto also said the other half of the funds that weren’t put towards student emergency funds would be used for the institution’s “COVID-related expenses.”

For more information, students and families can contact the Office of Financial Aid, email [email protected], or visit

UPDATE: UK has received notice that the federal funds are ready to be sent to UK, said UK spokesperson Jay Blanton, and the university expects to release information next week regarding distribution of the funds.

“We received notification late Wednesday that the disbursement of funds from the federal government to UK as part of the CARES act is set-up,” Blanton said. 

Blanton said now that the university hopes to release their plan for how to distribute the funds next week to help get them to eligible students as quickly as possible.

As part of the federal relief packaged passed by Congress in March, the University of Kentucky was allotted $17.8 million in emergency funding, at least half of which must go to students.

To be eligible to receive a portion of that $8.9 million, students must meet the criteria for filing a FAFSA, including being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, and must not have been taking only online courses before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A news release from the Department of Education said the emergency funding for students will be used for cash grants for “expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak”, such as technology, course materials, food, healthcare and childcare.

The funding is available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), a part of the CARES federal relief package passed at the end of March.

Under that law, schools are required to use at least half the funding for student emergency grants while the other half can be used for institutional purposes like refunding students, purchasing supplies to make the online transition easier for students like laptops or hot spots, or reimbursing themselves for expenses related to either of those since the COVID-19 state of emergency was declared on March 13.

In order to receive the allotment, each school had to sign a certification and agreement confirming how much they would use for student emergency funding and how much they would use for

Institutional purposes. It is unclear how much UK has agreed to allot for each portion.

The U.S. Department of Education is currently distributing the funds, and it is not clear if UK has received the allotment yet.

Once schools receive their funding, the school will decide which students receive the cash grants and develop their own strategy for distributing the funds.

UK is still in the process of developing a plan for fund distribution, UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said.

For more information on the emergency funding and answers to frequently asked questions, visit

This story will be updated as more information is provided.