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Student Affairs

Critical Aid Relief Emergency Support (CARES)

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Critical Aid Relief Emergency Support (formerly Student Emergency Relief Fund)

The Critical Aid Relief Emergency Support fund (CARES) assists Western students by providing financial support when they need assistance with unexpected emergency expenses surrounding situations such as accidents, illness, death of a family member, fire damage or need for temporary housing. Students may apply for funds when they have exhausted all other resources.

CARES is a joint venture between the Student Government Association (SGA), the Western Colorado University Foundation and the Office of Student Affairs. This funding is not intended to replace or supplement existing financial aid and does not have to be repaid.

Expenses Covered by the Emergency Fund (this list is not all inclusive):

  • Accidents
  • Books and other essential academic expenses
  • Medications and other costs related to a medical emergency or medical care
  • Replacement of essential personal belongings due to fire, theft, or natural disaster
  • Safety needs (i.e. changing a lock)
  • Travel costs related to a death or illness in the immediate family or of a close friend

Expenses Not Covered

  • Tuition, fees, health insurance, and study abroad costs
  • Non-essential utilities (i.e. cable), household, or furniture costs not related to damage or theft
  • Costs for entertainment, recreation, non-emergency travel or other non-essential expenses

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must have a financial hardship resulting from an emergency, accident, or other unexpected critical incident.
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled students and in good standing (academic and conduct) with the University.
  • All other resources, including emergency loans through Financial Aid must have been considered and are insufficient, unavailable or not available in a timely manner.
  • An individual is only eligible one time during the academic year at Western to receive emergency assistance.
  • Applicants must complete all application questions in full and submit supporting documentation.

Supporting Documentation (to include but not limited to):

  • Medical bills
  • Estimates for repairs
  • Documentary evidence (photographs or videos)
  • Letters of support (usually witnesses of your need)
  • Financial information

Application Process

Contact the Office of Student Affairs to learn about submitting an application and supporting documentation. The CARES Committee, made up of one student from SGA and two staff members from both the Office of Student Affairs and Student Financial Services, review the submitted applications and determines the appropriate funding amount. Funds distributed will not generally exceed $500. The committee will review applications requesting in excess of $500 for unique and unusual circumstances of emergency financial need. Applicants may be required to meet with a staff member in the Office of Student Affairs to discuss their application. If you are currently receiving financial aid, please be aware that receiving funding from the Emergency Fund may affect your future aid packages.  For information on the application please contact the Office of Student Affairs 970.943.2049.


The number of students who can be served by the Student Emergency Fund is subject to the availability of funds. The fund must be sustained by continual contributions from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends of the University.

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