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Home > Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Grant, Emergency Financial Aid Assistance and COVID-19 FAQ

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Grant, Emergency Financial Aid Assistance and COVID-19 FAQ

This page will be updated as new information becomes available. (Last updated: 11/5/2021)

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020. The CARES Act includes a provision for emergency funding for students enrolled in post-secondary education. This funding was made available to eligible students as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant.

In December 2020, additional funding was allocated to the HEERF grant program through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). In addition to increased funding, CRRSAA also brought changes to student eligibility requirements. Funds through this program are referred to as HEERF II.

Most recently, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was enacted in March 2021, and provided more funding to the HEERF grant program. This version of the program, referred to as HEERF III, also introduced several changes to student eligibility requirements.

HEERF grant eligibility under the CARES Act (HEERF I)

HEERF I funds were originally made available to students who incurred education-related expenses as a result of the disruption to campus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students enrolled in on-campus courses who were meeting federal financial aid requirements during the spring 2020 semester were eligible to apply for emergency funding. Additional eligibility requirements included, but were not limited to:

  • Citizenship (U.S. citizen or permanent resident).
  • Enrollment in an eligible, degree-seeking program.
  • Student must not be in default.
  • Student must meet all Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

UB required a 2019-20 or 2020-21 FAFSA on file to determine exceptional need.

Please note that funds allocated to the University at Buffalo from the HEERF I program have been exhausted and are no longer available.

HEERF Grant Eligibility under CRRSAA (HEERF II)

Under CRRSAA, Title IV eligibility was removed as a requirement for HEERF funding. However, funding was limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

On May 14, 2021, the Department of Education released a final rule allowing all enrolled students to be considered for HEERF funds, regardless of citizenship status. Funding eligibility was prioritized to students with exceptional need.

A 2020-21 FAFSA and/or HEERF grant application was required to determine exceptional need.

The application period for the HEERF II grant is closed. Remaining applications will be reviewed and remaining HEERF II funds, if any, will be distributed through the HEERF III allocation.

HEERF Grant Eligibility under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) (HEERF III)

Students who are or were enrolled at the University at Buffalo during the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for an emergency grant, regardless of citizenship status or Title IV financial aid eligibility.

As with CRRSAA, priority is given to students with exceptional need. However, all applications will be considered.

A 2021-22 FAFSA is required for domestic students. A HEERF grant application will be required for international and DACA students. Domestic students may also submit an application to document exceptional need in addition to the FAFSA. Links to the application will be available upon its release.

HEERF III funds became available in October 2021.

A new 2021-22 HEERF grant application is now available. 

Log in to the UB Scholarship Portal using your UBIT name and password. Select the Opportunities tab at the top of the page. Search for “Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), American Rescue Plan”. Please note that there are separate applications for domestic students (U.S. Citizens and eligible noncitizens) and for international students (includes undocumented and DACA students as well as international students.) Respond to each question asked, upload supporting documentation and submit your application. You will also be prompted to complete the Portal’s General Application if you have not done so already.

Please note that domestic students must have a 2021-22 FAFSA on file with UB’s Financial Aid Office.

Allowable expenses under the CARES Act (HEERF I)

Grant funds were provided to assist students with education expenses incurred as of a result of disruption to on-campus operations. Examples of allowable expenses included unexpected costs for housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation and health or dependent care.

Grant funds were not intended to be used toward enrollment-related charges on a student’s account or as replacement for income lost as a result of unemployment.

Allowable expenses under CRRSAA (HEERF II)

In addition to unanticipated educational expenses caused by the shift to remote instruction, CRRSAA allowed the HEERF grant to cover all expenses related to the cost of attendance. This includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing and transportation expenses.

Allowable expenses under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) (HEERF III)

The American Rescue Plan extends the CRRSAA guidance and allows HEERF funds to assist with any expense related to the cost of attendance as well as for emergency costs that arise due to the coronavirus. Allowable expenses may include tuition, fees, housing, books & supplies, transportation, health care and child/dependent care, among others.

To receive HEERF I grant funds under the CARES Act, students were required to complete a certification agreement acknowledging acceptance of the terms and conditions of the grant. Students must certify that they:

  • Have or will incur allowable expenses of food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, childcare, and/or transportation as a result of the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
  • Understand it is their responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office immediately if they will not incur expenses that meet or exceed the amount of the award. Furthermore, they must agree to return unused funds to the University at Buffalo.

Recipients of HEERF II and/or HEERF III funds under CRRSAA or American Rescue Plan (ARP) will not be required to complete a certification agreement. However, they are required to notify the institution if they will not incur expenses that meet or exceed the amount of the award.

Students anticipating assistance through the HEERF I or II programs were encouraged to enroll in direct deposit to receive funds without delay. Funds should be available in student bank accounts within two business days from the time the direct deposit transaction is initiated, depending on the financial institution. Students who are not enrolled in direct deposit had a check mailed to their local address. Visit the Office of the Registrar’s website for information on updating addresses listed in HUB.

Students receiving funds through the HEERF III program will have the opportunity to choose a payment option that best suits their financial need. Options include:

  • Full payment to UB student account.
  • Full payment directly to the student.
  • Split payment between UB student account and student.

Eligible students will receive more information regarding these options as well as instructions to complete the payment authorization form via email.

Funds from the HEERF I and II programs will not be applied automatically to any outstanding balance owed to the university. The HEERF grant in its entirety will be provided directly to students.

Students eligible for a HEERF II grant who would like to apply the funds toward any UB charges can make a payment to their account.

Recipients of HEERF III funds will have the option to apply the grant directly to charges on their UB Student Account or have the funds disburse directly to them.

UB’s Financial Aid Office is working closely with the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) to obtain guidance on how to complete eligibility evaluations for all New York State financial aid programs. Until complete guidance is received, please refer to HESC’s Covid-19 FAQ webpage for the most current information.

The impact on your financial aid depends on the type of funding you’ve received and the situation surrounding your decision to withdraw. We recommend calling our office at 716-645-8232 to speak with an advisor who can provide information and guidance relevant to your situation.

We understand the hardship placed on many of our UB students as a result of a reduction or loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students enrolling at UB during the 2021-22 academic year (summer 2021, fall 2021 and spring 2022) must enter the 2019 income as requested in the student and parent sections of the FAFSA. Once you have submitted the FAFSA, you may complete an Appeal for Extenuating Circumstances (PDF) to have a financial aid advisor reevaluate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Note that if your EFC is $0, you are already receiving the maximum amount of federal financial aid available.

The Financial Aid Office conducts a satisfactory academic progress (SAP) evaluation at the end of every term. Students will receive an email providing the results of the evaluation after all grades have been submitted. If you are notified that you are failing to meet one or more SAP standard and have been impacted by COVID-19, you may submit a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form to request a reevaluation. You may be asked to provide documentation supporting your situation. Submission of the appeal does not guarantee approval. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Various UB departments offer emergency funds for students who are facing financial challenges. Visit Student Life’s Emergency Funds page to find instructions and information about applying for emergency funds. Individual academic departments may offer emergency funds. For information about these funds, please contact your academic department.

Many funds established to assist with financial emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic are intended for unanticipated expenses. Review the eligibility requirements and allowable uses prior to applying for emergency funds from any source. Note that under CRRSAA and the American Rescue Plan (ARP), HEERF grant funds may be applied to any expense related to the cost of attendance at a post-secondary institution.

In addition to emergency funds, students may continue to pursue funding normally available throughout the academic year. Log in to the UB Scholarship Portal and complete the General Application to view philanthropic or departmental opportunities.

You can also research scholarships from external sources. In some cases, you may want to consider an alternative education loan offered by a private lending institution.

Information is subject to change without notice due to changes in federal, state and/or institutional rules and regulations. Students must complete a FAFSA every year. Students must be making satisfactory academic progress to continue to receive financial aid.