Spring 2020 Refunds, Financial Aid, CARES Act Funding & Tuition

This FAQ includes information about refunds and tuition for the spring 2020 semester, as well as financial aid.

Q: Did MICA help defray travel and moving costs for students in the spring 2020 semester?

Yes. Students who received need-based financial aid in the 2019-2020 academic year were provided $150.00 to defray costs related to College operational changes. Qualifying students automatically received this funding. There was no application process.

Q: Will students in MICA housing during the spring 2020 semester receive credit adjustment based on prorated room and board charges?

All residential students received an initial $500 refund. Checks for this initial housing reimbursement were available beginning at noon Wednesday, March 18. Refund checks not picked up in person were sent to students through the mail. 

All residential students who left campus for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester received an additional prorated refund. The remainder of the refunds were sent by the end of March.

Q: What other funds exist to address students’ exceptional financial needs?

Other students (domestic and international) who face financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic may seek assistance and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Requests should be submitted through MICA’s Angel Fund. 

Q: Now that both the graduate and undergraduate students have filed petitions for Spring 2020 tuition remission and lab fees, how will this be handled by the administration? 

MICA provided prorated refunds for housing and meal plans for the spring 2020 semester. 

Additionally, in undergraduate programs, many MICA students are asked to pay an individual course fee at the start of the term to gain access to a particular set of materials that can be discounted if purchased in bulk. MICA has issued partial, prorated refunds for all individual course fees that were collected either by departments or the MICA store. Some graduate programs include stipends to support travel or the purchase of materials. Where applicable, the remainder of these stipends has been distributed to those students.

Regarding tuition for the 2020 spring semester, MICA has been committed to providing a continuous educational experience that allowed all students to complete the semester despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and, for graduating students, to complete their degrees. All of our faculty and educational support staff worked hard to pivot their courses into remote and alternate means of instruction, to redesign assignments so they can be completed without access to the campus facilities, and to develop new approaches to the documentation and exhibition of work that will provide culminating experiences and portfolio materials that are appropriate to the learning goals for their courses. We recognize that this situation is not ideal, but the entire MICA educational team remains fully committed to the creative construction of this alternative path of learning and degree completion. We believe that students were able to be rewardingly engaged as we moved to make guest visits virtual, developed planning for the senior books across programs, and worked collectively to plan the end-of-semester online exhibition. As a College, we intend to keep on teaching and ensure a quality education for our students to keep on learning. Accordingly, tuition refunds are not being contemplated.

Students and families who elect to do so can donate their refunds to enhance MICA’s MICA’s Angel Fund, which assists students experiencing financial hardship. There will be an opt-in choice for this donation in the forthcoming refund communication.

Q. What about a Spring 2020 refund for meal plans for non-residential students? 

Yes. A prorated refund was issued due to discontinuation of meal services in the 2020 spring semester. 

Students and families who elect to do so can donate their refunds to enhance MICA’s MICA’s Angel Fund, which assists students experiencing financial hardship. There will be an opt-in choice for this donation in the forthcoming refund communication. 

Q: What is the CARES/Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provided by the federal government? 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. One section of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund and sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. Such expenses include food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. 

Q: When will Federal CARES/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds be available?

MICA applied for funding from the Federal CARES Act and received that funding from the U.S. Department of Education. MICA began distributing grants to students on Monday, May 4, 2020. 

Q: Who is eligible to receive the Federal CARES Emergency Grant?

Students eligible to receive these funds:

  • Must be enrolled in the semester for which the student experiencedCOVID-19 related educational expenses.

  • Must be a degree-seeking Undergraduate or Graduate student.

  • Must be eligible to receive Title IV aid; see Title IV Eligibility Criteria (Basic Eligibility Criteria for Federal Student Aid).

  • Must have had their enrollment impacted by COVID-19 and have expenses incurred for housing, food, course materials, technology, healthcare, or childcare.

  • Must have submitted 2019-2020 FAFSA for the school year.

  • Must not be enrolled in a fully online program. 

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education does not allow these funds to be used for international students, undocumented students, non-matriculated students or students enrolled in an exclusively online degree program on or prior to March 13, 2020. 

Q: How will funding amounts be determined for the Federal CARES Emergency Grant?

Students who met basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid will receive a grant. The Financial Aid Office will use Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data to determine your eligibility and amount.

 MICA will provide students receiving Pell Grants and who are already defined by the federal government as having exceptional need with the largest grants.

MICA will provide students receiving federal loans and who are already defined by the federal government as having lesser exceptional needs with smaller grants.

Q: Are online MICA students eligible for Federal CARES Emergency Grants?

No. Based on the guidance from the U.S. Department of Education students enrolled in fully online programs are not eligible for the CARES Act grants. 

Q: How do I apply for the Federal CARES Emergency Grant?

No application is required. Grants will automatically go to students who completed a FAFSA and received federal student aid (federal grants and/or federal loans). 

Q: What is the purpose of the MICA CARES Grant?

The MICA CARES Grant is intended to assist students who are ineligible to file a FAFSA, and students who did not file a FAFSA. 

Q: Who is eligible to receive the MICA CARES Emergency Grant?

Students eligible to receive a MICA CARES Emergency Grant must be:

  • An international student and/or non-FAFSA filer.

  • Enrolled in the current semester.

  • A student who has not received a Federal CARES Emergency Grant.

Q: How do I apply for the MICA CARES Emergency Grant?

 No application is required. Grants will automatically go to students who did not receive or were ineligible for Federal CARES Emergency Grant.

Q: How will funding amounts be determined for the MICA CARES Emergency Grant?

Amounts will be determined based on the availability of institutional funds.

Q: Can I receive more than one Federal and MICA CARES Emergency Grant?

It is a one-time award. Funding is not available at this time to provide students with additional grants.

Q: How and when will I receive my MICA CARES Emergency Grant? 

Grants have been sent via check from Students Accounts Office to the address on file beginning Monday, May 4, 2020. Please allow ample time for checks to be received.

Q: How can I use the grant?

These funds are meant to help students pay and offset expenses for technology, health care, child care, course materials, rent, food, moving or other educational expenses incurred this semester. If you have yet to experience financial stress due to COVID-19, these funds can help with unanticipated expenses or income loss that may occur throughout the summer and into the fall. 

Q: If I have a past due balance will my grant be applied towards that? 

No. Your grant will be sent to you, even if you have a past due balance.

Q: What if I need more than what is awarded to me? 

We understand students have significant needs during this time. The Federal and MICA CARES Emergency Grant is limited to availability of funding. Additional requests will be an application-based process requiring supporting documentation. If you are having financial difficulties, please reach out to your Financial Aid Counselor to discuss other available options. 

Q:   How does COVID-19 impact students on payment plans?

Contact Students Accounts Office (studentaccounts@mica.edu) for information.

Q:  Will my VA benefits continue? 

Benefits will continue for the spring semester. If you have any questions, please email the VA Certifying Official at va@mica.edu

Q:  What if I am on SAP or Academic probation and do not pass all or some classes?

Please contact your Financial Aid Counselor for SAP questions. Email enrollmentservices@mica.edu for Academic probation questions.

Q:  Will my financial aid change if I choose Pass/Fail grading during the Spring 2020 semester? 

Your financial aid will not be impacted if you choose Pass/Fail. Normal successful completion of your courses as with letter grades (A-F) are still applicable. You can opt to receive a letter grade (A-F) and (P/F) as a mix in different courses. Please consult with your Faculty member or Enrollment Services office. 

Q:  If I need to submit a form to the Financial Aid Office, what is the best way to do that? 

Email your form to finaid@mica.edu or email your Financial Aid Counselor directly. We are currently exploring a more student friendly option.

 Q:  Will my financial aid change as a result of switching to remote instruction?

No. Your financial aid will not be impacted due to this change in instruction. All grants, scholarships, and other forms of student aid remain intact. 

Q:  What if I need assistance for medical expenses, relocation, rent, food, or other needs?

You are encouraged to submit a request through MICA’s Angel Fund for consideration per the email from Student Affairs.

Q:  What if my family’s circumstances have changed?

If you or your family have experienced recent job loss or other unexpected circumstances and you have already completed the FAFSA, please contact your Financial Aid Counselor directly for a special circumstances appeal form. The special circumstances appeal allows MICA to assess your financial aid and make any adjustments to your financial aid package given your current situation. Supporting documentation is required and a FAFSA must be filed. Adjustments (if any) are made on a case- by-case basis.

Q:  What if I never filed a FAFSA, but now I need to?

Students in need of federal financial aid must complete the FAFSA  for both 19-20 (current school year) and 20-21 (new school year). Questions regarding the FAFSA process can be addressed by your Financial Aid Counselor.

Q:  Am I still accruing interest on my federal student loans?

There are many helpful FAQs on the federal student aid website. As information continues to evolve, please check for updates. Currently, all loans owned by the Education Department (ED) will have interest waived beginning March 13, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2020.  If you have questions regarding repaying or emergency forbearance, please visit the federal student aid website for all of the details.

Q: What if I need financial assistance due to my work-study pay ending?

You are encouraged to submit a request through MICA’s Angel Fund for consideration per the email from Student Affairs.

Q: Who makes decisions regarding the allocation of the Angel Fund, and what is the process by the allocation team? How quickly are the Angel Funds distributed to a student once they are approved?

MICA’s Angel Fund, which provides support in case of urgent hardships, is not intended as a tuition fund, but instead  for unexpected hardship where a few hundred dollars can make a difference. It has received an overwhelming amount of requests since the COVID-19 pandemic.

MICA staff are currently processing requests. Students can receive up to $300 in funds, and the average reward has so far been approximately $220. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, requests were reviewed on a weekly basis. Currently, requests are reviewed almost as soon as they come in with the goal of getting approved funds sent within a matter of days.