By President Emerita Judie Wexler May 15, 2020

Dear CIIS Community,

The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to rethink every aspect of life in higher education. As you know, we’ve had to make enormous adjustments to how we operate; putting classes and student support services online and having staff, faculty, and students work and learn from home are only the most visible. We also recognize the profound impact of COVID on our community, particularly the financial hardship for some students. This is the purpose of my letter today.

First let me say to those who are affected, we see you, we hear you, and we are actively doing as much as we can to help you continue your education during this unprecedented time. To this end, I am sharing with you some support efforts that are underway, emphasizing that supporting students is a long-term commitment that CIIS sees as spanning even beyond COVID-19 times.

The CARES Act Disbursement

The CARES Act offers funding to institutions to provide financial grants to students whose lives have been disrupted by COVID. As of today (5/15), CIIS has received and distributed monies to over 140 students who applied for these hardship funds. Another $100,000 of CIIS (75%) and Student Union (25%) funds will soon be distributed to those who do not meet the criteria under the CARES Act. A special committee comprised of Michelle Eng (Dean of Undergraduate Studies), Rachel Bryant (Director of Diversity and Inclusion), and Yunny Yip (Dean of Students) worked with Jennifer Gruczelak (Director of Financial Aid) to establish the criteria for the CARES Act.

Research is currently underway to make sure that CIIS can use the remaining CARES funds ($178,000) for student scholarship support. Those funds are given for general institutional use, but we hope to direct them to student support. The Financial Aid Office will allocate this scholarship money, again working with the committee. 

Additional Scholarships

The Development Office devoted their recent Giving Tuesday campaign to soliciting scholarship funds for students affected by the pandemic. As many potential and past donors noted, they are very aware of the need, but unfortunately, they too have been hard hit by COVID and have less disposable income. We will continue to reach out to donors on behalf of our students.

CIIS allocates $1.69m of university funds annually to student scholarships (out of a budget of $33m). Another $583,483 has gone to student workers, who we committed to pay through Spring semester even if they were unable to work virtually.

Like everything about the COVID pandemic, the financial picture is fluid. We are currently working on the budget for next year, modeling different scenarios to plan for all eventualities. We will keep you up to date as we have information.

To everyone, I hope you are staying well. To students who have experienced a change in their financial situation due to the pandemic, know we will continue to look for ways to support you. For students on financial aid, please contact the financial Aid Office at to see about redoing your financial aid allocation (if applicable). We also encourage you to see our Resources page for more information.



CARES Act Information

Date Last Updated: May 15, 2020

In compliance with the provisions of the CARES Act regarding the awarding of emergency funds to students, this page provides information relevant to the CARES Act.

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

CARES signed agreement submitted on April 16, 2020.

  1. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.


  1. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

As of May 14, 2020, the total amount distributed to students as emergency financial aid grants is $ 176,178.00.

  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

There are 968 students eligible to participate (based on FAFSA eligibility and eligible programs).

  The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

  • As of May 14, 2020, 141 students received the Emergency Financial Aid Grant.
  1. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

Awarding Criteria: Funding amounts will vary based on the circumstances that may be directly impacting your education, and are not to exceed an amount of $1,500, as determined by California Institute of Integral Studies.

         CIIS opened up the CARES Act Application to all students who are eligible to complete a 2019-2020 Fafsa with an application deadline on May 8, 2020.   May 11, 2020 the Cares Act Committee reviewed all applicants and allocated the funds in three groups:

Undergraduates-who met the eligible criteria and submitted the Cares Act application by said deadline.

Graduate/Professional students with dependents- who met the eligible criteria and submitted the Cares Act application by said deadline.

All other Graduate/Professional students- who met the eligible criteria and submitted the Cares Act application by said deadline.

  1. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
  • Must be enrolled in an eligible degree program at the time of application
  • Must be a U.S citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Must Be eligible to complete a FAFSA application

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