Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III)

Students holding up J signs in front of Southpaw statue.

 

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) as authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, was signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The ARP funds are intended to, among other things, support vulnerable students, monitor and suppress the coronavirus, and reengage students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic.  These emergency grants may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance, for costs that have arisen due to coronavirus such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

To be eligible, students must have experienced unexpected financial challenges with regard to their cost of attendance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 2021 Summer HEERF Application will open on July 13, 2021 and close on August 1, 2021.  

Students that meet the eligibility requirements and are enrolled at USA in the Summer 2021 semester, in a degree-seeking program, will be eligible to apply for the Summer HEERF Program. 

The 2021 Fall HEERF Application will open on August 23, 2021 and close on September 19, 2021.

Students that meet the eligibility requirements and are enrolled at USA in the Fall 2021 semester, in a degree-seeking program, will be eligible to apply for the Fall HEERF Program.  HEERF application review should be completed, and student notifications sent, by September 30, 2021.

The Department of Education and the policies established in the ARP have been directed to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduate students with extraordinary financial circumstances. 

For more information about the HEERF please use the FAQs below. For questions not covered in the FAQs, please contact the USA Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund contact team at HEERF@southalabama.edu. 

FAQs for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

▼   What is the ARP - Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) (Pub.L. 117-2). The ARP appropriated approximately $39.6 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and represents the third stream of funding appropriated for HEERF to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Taken together, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (Pub. L. 116–136), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) (Pub. L. 116-260), and the ARP represent HEERF I, HEERF II, and HEERF III, respectively. 

The ARP funds are intended to, among other things, support vulnerable students, monitor and suppress the coronavirus, and reengage students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic.  These emergency grants may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance, for costs that have arisen due to coronavirus such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

▼   Who can apply for the funds?

We know that many of our students are struggling financially through this global health crisis. USA has developed a plan to distribute these funds, following Department of Education guidelines. Emergency aid will be made available to students that meet the HEERF III guidelines and who are currently enrolled at USA. These funds are earmarked to support students that have experienced unexpected financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic related to any component of their cost of attending school - such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care?

To be eligible for to apply for the Fall HEERF award students must be, as of the Fall 2021 term:

  • enrolled and registered for the Fall 2021 semester as an undergraduate or graduate student;
  • enrolled in a degree-seeking program.

USA is required to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students
who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students. This information will be based on your 21/22 FAFSA. 

 

▼   What changes did Congress make to the HEERF programs in ARP (HEERF III) that are different from the previous versions?

Students are no longer required to be eligible for Title IV student financial aid in order to receive HEERF grants to students.Put more plainly, students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or are eligible for Title IV.

Howver, institutions are directed (with the ARP funds) to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students. This data is most clearly defined through the information provided through the student's FAFSA. Those with a FAFSA on file will be eligible for the highest tier awards. 

ARP explicitly state that emergency financial aid grants to students may be provided to students exclusively enrolled in distance education provided the institution prioritizes exceptional need.

International students may also receive HEERF. However, ARP does require institutions to prioritize domestic students, and undergraduates, with exceptional need. 

▼   What does "exceptional need" mean?

Institutions are directed with the ARP funds to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students.

Beyond Pell eligibility, other types of exceptional need could include students who may be eligible for other federal or state need-based aid or have faced significant unexpected expenses, such as the loss of employment (either for themselves or their families), reduced income, or food or housing insecurity. 

Award levels will be determined, based on the amount of funds available for each round and the number of applicants. Those with a 21/22 FAFSA on file will be eligible for the highest tier awards. Those without a FAFSA, or way of determining exceptional need by way of the Department of Education and ARP guidance, will be eligible for lower tier award consideration. 

▼   How can I apply?

Students may complete the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund application in their PAWS account. 

To apply:

  • Click here to log in to your student single sign on
  • Select PAWS from the directory
  • Select the “Student Services & Financial Aid” tab
  • Select the “Summer 2021 Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Round III Application” link

The deadline date for the Fall application is September 19, 2021. Review will begin on September 20, 2021. Student can expect to be notified of their eligibility and award status on or before October 5, 2021.

▼   How will funds be allocated?

USA will distribute the HEERF Round III funding in a way that prioritizes students with exceptional need and ensures that funds are distributed as widely as possible.

 

▼   When and how will I be notified of my award status?

Students will be notified a number of times over the course of this process.

  • Students will be notified immediately in their PAWS account when the application has been submitted successfully. Student's will also be able to view a completed application anytime.
  • Students will receive an email verification of the submission.
  • Students will be notified of their eligibility when their application has been processed. 
  • Students will be notified if an award is processed.

All notifications will be sent to a students JagMail account.

The deadline date for the Fall application is September 19, 2021. Review will begin on September 20, 2021. Student can expect to be notified of their eligibility and award status on or before October 5, 2021.

 

▼   How much can I expect to receive?

Award levels will be determined, based on the amount of funds made available to the school and the number of eligible applicants. Award levels will be prioritized by those exhibiting exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances. This data is received from the Department of Education, via a students FAFSA. 

Those without a FAFSA may still apply/be considered, but the highest tier awards are required to be prioritized for those with exceptional need as defined above. 

▼   How will these funds be disbursed?

In most cases a student will receive these funds one time. Funds will be awarded through the student account. 

Please be sure your Electronic Direct Deposit (EDD) information is up to date. EDD allows delivery of aid and/or student emergency stipends and support to be processed directly to your bank account. EDD also eliminates delays due to address problems with student checks and helps you avoid a trip to the bank. You can verify your EDD information by following five easy steps. 

  • Click here to log in to your student single sign on
  • Select PAWS from the directory
  • Click Student Services and Financial Aid
  • Click Student Records
  • Click Direct Deposit Information (Enter Banking Information)

The deadline to have your EDD information on file will be Friday, September 17, 2021.

▼   How was the allocation to USA determined?

Allocations to institutions are based on a formula that includes the relative shares of Federal Pell Grant recipients, the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Federal Pell and non-Pell Grant recipients exclusively enrolled in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency.


The amount provided for student emergency grants, under ARP, is dedicated to support components of the student’s cost of attendance, for costs that have arisen due to coronavirus such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

▼   Do the funds need to be repaid?

No, this is not a loan. These emergency grants may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance, for costs that have arisen due to coronavirus such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

▼   Can this funding reduce my financial aid?

No, these funds are exempt from the maximum federal financial aid amount students may receive.

▼   Can I apply for funding more than once?

No. You will only be allowed to apply for the 2021 Fall HEERF program one time. 

You will be asked to certify your answers at the time of submission. Please be sure to check your answers before clicking submit, as you will only be able to apply once and answers cannot be changed after submission. 

 

▼   Is there a deadline to apply?

To ensure consideration for funding students should must complete the application by the deadline date of September 19, 2021.

The deadline date for the Fall application is September 19, 2021. Review will begin on September 20, 2021. Student can expect to be notified of their eligibility and award status on or before October 5, 2021.

 

▼   What expenses are covered by the CRRSAA HEERF program?

These emergency grants may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance, for costs that have arisen due to coronavirus such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

▼   I am graduating this term (Summer 2021). Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. If you are currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program for the Fall 2021 academic term, you are eligible to apply.

An application is not a guarantee of award.

▼   Why was I not funded at the amount I expected?

All applications submitted by the deadline date will be evaluated individually and the amount provided will be based on a number of student-specific factors and the funding available. 

While the ARP does not require students to have completed the 21/22 FAFSA, it does require us to prioritize those with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students. This data is most commonly collecte through the students FAFSA. 

Additional award levels will be provided for students that have selected not to complete the FAFSA. 

 

▼   Who can I contact for more information?
If you have questions about the HEERF III program not covered here, please contact the USA HEERF Contact Team at heerf@southalabama.edu