What is HEERF?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, became law in March 2020. One component of the CARES Act, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, provided funding to institutions of higher education, with at least half of the funding explicitly directed to provide emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives were disrupted by the pandemic, and the other half to help institutions pay for significant changes in the delivery of instruction that resulted from the pandemic. This was followed by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed into law on March 11, 2021, each of which has a HEERF component.
How much total funding did the University receive in HEERF funding?
$17,295,177 from the CARES Act (HEERF I); $25,474,540 from CRRSAA (HEERF II) and $ 45,507,847 from ARP (HEERF III). A portion of these funds are allocated specifically for student Emergency Financial Aid Grants and the rest is allocated to institutional needs.
How much funding for Student Emergency Financial Aid Grants did the University receive through HEERF?
$8,647,589 from HEERF I, $8,647,589 from HEERF II and $22,758,258 from HEERF III, for a total of $40,053,036.
How much of this HEERF Emergency Financial Aid Grant funding will be awarded to students?
Will any of this Student Emergency Grant funding be used to reimburse the University for its own expenses?
No. The University has not used, and will not use, any of the HEERF Emergency Grant funding for students to reimburse itself. The Student Portion of the HEERF Act funding has been used and will be used exclusively to provide grants to meet the additional need that students will demonstrate because of the pandemic.
Will other HEERF funding be awarded to students?
Yes. Beyond the CARES Act funding for students, the University estimates that it will need to identify more funds to meet the additional need that students will demonstrate because of the pandemic. The University has already committed over $2 million of the Institutional Portion of its CARES Act funding for this purpose.
Does the federal government limit how the University may use CARES Act and other HEERF Student Emergency Grant funding?
Yes. The government required that CARES Act Emergency Grant funding only be used for students who were enrolled in post-secondary education last spring, the period when campus operations were interrupted because of COVID-19 and only for needs related to the pandemic. Further, universities can only use CARES Act funds for students who are eligible for federal financial aid under all the rules and regulations associated with Title IV of the Higher Education Act. These rules include establishing eligibility through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), maintaining satisfactory academic progress and remaining currently enrolled as a matriculated student. The government prohibited CARES Act funding from being used to meet some kinds of student need — for example, need arising from job or income loss — even when this need results directly from the pandemic. The HEERF II and HEERF III funds have different restrictions. They may be used for students who did not file a FAFSA but must be targeted towards students with the greatest financial need as determined by the institution and especially towards needy undergraduates. These funds cannot be applied to outstanding University charges without the permission of the student, and therefore awarded funds will refund directly to students via electronic refund.
How were HEERF Emergency Grants awarded through the 2020-2021 academic year?
In spring and summer 2020, HEERF funding was awarded to students who applied for emergency funds for any additional needs caused by the pandemic including relocation home, return from study abroad, medical and food needs, temporary housing, transportation and more. In addition to these funds the University awarded over $1 million of Student Impact funds for emergency needs.
The University used CARES Act funding to meet a portion of the additional student financial need that the pandemic has created. Using the funds in this way will help students persist in their studies and graduate on time; it will also help the University meet the greater demonstrated need of the student body as a whole.
To ensure that students received their CARES Act funds by the start of the fall 2020 semester, the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid awarded funds, without an additional application, to every undergraduate student who qualified for Pell, Covenant Scholarship or University grants of at least $1,000, with each such student receiving an increase in total grant funding of at least $1,000 for the academic year. Through individual appeals, the office is also awarding CARES Act funds to graduate and professional students, as well as other undergraduate students who demonstrate extraordinary need. Funds were also used to provide internet stipends in spring 2021 to students who demonstrated financial need and were living off-campus or with family and studying remotely.
HEERF awards were also made to undergraduate students who needed additional courses and demonstrated extraordinary financial need in summer 2021 due to the pandemic. HEERF funds were also used to assist needy students who applied for work-study jobs and were not hired and students who worked a work-study job but were unable to earn their full offered award.
How will HEERF Emergency Grants be awarded in 2021-2022?
HEERF Emergency Grants will be automatically awarded in 2021-2022 to undergraduates who qualify for Pell, Covenant Scholarships, or otherwise demonstrate extraordinary need. A portion of student grant funding will also be available through the Graduate School to help students who were unable to finish their programs due to research and travel interruptions caused by the pandemic or who demonstrated extraordinary need as undergraduates. These funds will not apply to any outstanding charges on the student account or appear on the financial aid award letter, students will be notified separately of their HEERF awards. As always, the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid is also considering requests for reconsideration and emergency grants from students who previously did not qualify but whose financial circumstances have changed.
Why is the University awarding HEERF Emergency Grants in these ways?
The University’s overarching goals are to continue to meet the full demonstrated need of every undergraduate student who qualifies for aid, to help all students persist in their studies and graduate on time and to administer limited resources as transparently and as equitably as possible. The University believes that the best way to achieve these goals is to quickly and systematically increase grant support for students whose aid application identifies them as having financial need, while reserving funds for requests for emergency funds for graduate, professional and other undergraduate students who do not receive grants automatically but can document that they have extraordinary need or were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why isn’t the University distributing an equal share of HEERF funding to every student?
HEERF II and HEERF III require the University to direct funds towards students demonstrating financial need. The University is directing funds to help students at all levels whose financial needs have increased because of the pandemic, so that these students can persist in their studies and graduate on time. The University believes that it is the fairest, most equitable and most effective way to use these funds.
Are there other funds available for emergency grants or financial needs related to COVID -19?
Yes. Students may use the Needs Analysis Review Form or contact the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid to request reconsideration of their needs due to loss of income, extraordinary expenses or other items related to their costs for 2021-22. In addition, emergency grant funding is available through the Dean of Students’ Student Emergency Fund. The Dean of Students will work with the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid to use remaining Student Impact Funds and other resources available to help meet the financial needs of students.
How does the University report its use of HEERF Emergency Financial Aid Grant funding to the federal government?
The University’s required report to the federal government on its use of HEERF Act Emergency Grant funding appears below and is regularly updated:
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement for Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than the required minimum amounts in the CARES, CRRSAA and ARP acts to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
The institution has/will receive $40,053,036 in Emergency Financial Aid Grant funding.
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, is 24,302.
As of Oct. 15, 2020, the University has disbursed the entire $8,647,589 of the CARES (HEERF I) emergency grant funds to 3,807 students. This constitutes the final reporting of CARES Emergency Financial Aid Grant funding.
In addition, as of June, 30, 2021, the University has disbursed $5,366,662, of HEERF II and HEERF III emergency financial aid grant funding to 2,378 students.
Housing Relocation Allowance
A $400 allowance for relocation expenses for undergraduate students who are financial aid need-based grant recipients that moved home from on-campus to their permanent residence was added to the “living with parents” fall cost of attendance (“student budget”) and funded with CARES Act institutional funds. No application was required for these funds. Students who canceled their on-campus housing contracts by the Aug. 31, 2020 deadline and did not indicate living in an off-campus apartment were automatically awarded the relocation allowance.
How much Institutional Portion funding was the University awarded through the CARES Act?
$8,647,588, half of the total CARES Act funding. As of June 30, 2021, the University has disbursed $2,290,650 of this Institutional Portion of its CARES Act funds to 2,443 students.
Does the federal government limit how the University may use HEERF Institutional Portion funds?
Yes. The government requires that Institutional Portion funds be used to cover qualified costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus. More information on the various HEERF agreement(s) can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website.
Qualified costs may include expenses to support changes to instructional delivery, the costs related to the disinfecting and cleaning of campus facilities, and the purchase of personal protective equipment and more.
This funding can also be used to provide additional emergency financial aid grants to students. As of June 30, 2021, the University has disbursed $2,290,650 of the Institutional Portion of its CARES Act funds to students.
How does the University report its use of HEERF Institutional Portion(s) funding to the federal government?
The University’s required report to the federal government on its use of HEERF (CARES (HEERF I), CRRSAA (HEERF II), and ARP (HEERF III)) Institutional Portion funding appears below, updated quarterly:
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill institution signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement for Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no more than 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES, CRRSAA and ARP to cover institutional costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instructionand disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The institution has been awarded $48,224,128 in Institutional Portion funding for CARES, CRRSAA and ARP programs.
As of June 30, 2021, the University has expended $14,845,766 of these institutional funds to cover qualified costs associated with changes to the delivery of instruction, including $2,290,650 of institutional funds to students in the form of emergency grants. The remaining funds will be expended by the end of the grant period.