Overview

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) that provides emergency funding to eligible students for expenses incurred during the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 crisis.

All students enrolled in Spring 2020, undergraduate, graduate, and professional, full-time and part-time, may apply, subject to the rules below. International students, undocumented students, and students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs in the Spring 2020 semester are not eligible. The sole purpose of this federal funding is to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, specifically expenses related to food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses.

Based on guidance from the U. S. Department of Education along with the CARES Act legislative language, the following Fast Facts and FAQs provide information regarding HEERF eligibility, allowable uses, and disbursement of funds.

Important Date

  • Certification form becomes available on Tuesday, May 19th and closes on Monday, June 15th.

Fast Facts

  • Title IV Eligibility Required: Students must be U.S citizens and eligible to receive Title IV funding in order to receive HEERF emergency grants. Title IV eligibility is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Expense v. Need: HEERF-student share dollars are to aid students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19; this is different than a change in a student's financial need due to COVID-19, which could be a result of a loss of income rather than new expenses.
  • Direct Distribution to Students: UAB will pay approved HEERF-student emergency grants directly to eligible students. The funds are not applied toward outstanding institutional charges.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Where do I find the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund application and how do I submit it?

Beginning May 19, students will received communication via email that will include a link to the certification form. The certification form can be submitted electronically. You can also access the link by logging into BlazerNET and navigating to your My Financial Aid page.

Who is eligible to receive the HEERF student grant?

Students must meet Title IV eligibility requirements and complete a FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year in order to receive HEERF emergency funds. After confirming the Title IV eligibility requirements, the institution retains discretion over which students will receive HEERF-student share funds.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education does not allow these funds to be used for international students, undocumented students, and non-matriculated students. Students enrolled exclusively in an online program in the Spring 2020 semester are not eligible as the impact on their instruction and programming has not been affected.

Why does a student have to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in order to apply for the HEERF student grant?

In order to determine if a student is eligible to receive HEERF funds the University must confirm that a student is eligible for Title IV funds. To determine eligibility for Title IV funds, you must file a FAFSA. The Title IV eligibility criteria as stated in section 484 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) includes but is not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen*; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting.

*An eligible non-citizen is a permanent resident with an alien registration number (ARN), certain refugees and seeking asylum statuses but must have registered with homeland security and have documentation.

What does the FAFSA determine?

The FAFSA calculates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA form, the application for federal student aid. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR), a summary of the information you provided on your application. Your SAR is available at fafsa.gov once the FAFSA is processed.

How do I complete a FAFSA?

Go to studentaid.gov and select the “Fill Out the FAFSA” button and follow the directions on the screen.

What are other eligibility criteria in section 484 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that students must meet to apply for the HEERF student grant?

Section 484 of the HEA states that Title IV eligible students must:

  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a degree or eligible certificate program.
  • Not be enrolled in elementary or secondary school.
  • For currently enrolled students, be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not owe an overpayment on Title IV grants or loans.
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
  • File “as part of the original financial aid application process” a certification that includes
    • A statement of educational purpose.
    • Student's SSN.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident, or other eligible noncitizen*.
  • Have returned fraudulently obtained Title IV funds if convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to charges.
  • Not have fraudulently received Title IV loans in excess of annual or aggregate limits.
  • Have repaid Title IV loan amounts in excess of annual or aggregate limits if obtained inadvertently.
  • Have Selective Service registration verified.
  • Have Social Security Number verified.
  • Not have a federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale, with certain time limitations.

*An eligible non-citizen is a permanent resident with an alien registration number (ARN), certain refugees and seeking asylum statuses but must have registered with homeland security and have documentation.

What financial assistance is covered under the HEERF student grant?

Students can request assistance for expenses for housing, food, technology requirements, healthcare, and course materials due to disruptions to campus operations due to COVID-19.

How will UAB determine who will be approved and the amount of each HEERF grant?

UAB received a limited amount of funds. UAB is awarding the funding based on a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), with awards ranging from $50 to $900.

When will the HEERF certification form be available to students?

Eligible students may submit their certification form online beginning May 19, 2020 through June 15, 2020.

What is the deadline for submitting the certification for the HEERF student grant?

The deadline to submit the HEERF certification form will be June 15, 2020.

How do I check the status of my HEERF request?

Students can check the status of their request on their My Financial Aid page in BlazerNET.

How long will it take for my certification form to be reviewed and approved?

We anticipate a large volume of requests and will work to process submissions as quickly as possible. Our goal is to provide the approved distribution as soon as possible after receipt of funds from the U. S. Department of Education.

How will I receive funds for the HEERF student grant and when will the funds be sent to me?

Students must complete the Direct Deposit authorization form under Links/Forms in BlazerNET so that funds can be sent electronically to the student’s bank. Allow 2-3 business days for funds to be sent by direct deposit. If no direct deposit authorization exists, a check will be mailed to the student’s mailing address or home address on file. This may take 7-10 business days.

How many times can I submit the certification form?

Currently, a student may submit one certification form for an emergency HEERF grant. If UAB has and/or receives additional funding from the CARES Act, students will be notified and will be able to reapply for additional grant assistance at that time.

Can I request that the HEERF student grant be applied toward my student account in order to pay off an outstanding balance?

The emergency cash grant must be disbursed directly to students using means such as check or direct deposit and will not be applied toward outstanding balances. The funds must go from the school to the student, and the student can then use their grant to cover coronavirus-related expenses.

Who do I contact for questions about the HEERF student grant?

Will HEERF emergency grants be counted as income for the calculation of Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or estimated financial assistance (EFA)?

No. Aid received by victims of an emergency by either a federal or state entity for purposes of providing financial relief will not be counted as income for the calculation of EFC, or as EFA.

Are the Emergency Grants taxable?

No HEERF is not taxable and is not included in gross income. Because the emergency financial aid grant is not includible in your gross income, you cannot claim any deduction or credit for expenses paid with the grant including the tuition and fees deduction, the American Opportunity Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit. See section 139(h) of the Internal Revenue Code.


CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds Reporting

On May 6, 2020, the Office of Postsecondary Education published requirements for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) reporting. Reporting for HEERF funds distributed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) begins 30 days from the receipt of funds from the U.S. Department of Education and every 45 days thereafter.

Report Date: June 24, 2020

  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.
    On May 18, 2020, the Certification and Agreement was signed and returned to the Department of Education. Furthermore, the University of Alabama at Birmingham 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.
  2. 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.
    The total amount of funds that the institution will receive from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students is $6,065,628.00.
  3. 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 June 24, 2020, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students is $6,046,630.
  4. 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.
    As of June 24, 2020, UAB has 10,638 students that are eligible for Title IV funding and therefore eligible for CARES Act funding.
  5. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
    The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 10,638.
  6. 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.
    On May 19, 2020 a mass communication was sent to eligible students. Students were directed to complete a certification documenting their COVID-19 related expenses. Certifications were reviewed to determine if a student’s request meets appropriate qualifications. UAB is awarding funds based on a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), with funds ranging from $400 to $1,500. The actual grant depends on the students EFC, expenses, and availability of funds.
    In addition to the grants described above, on June 24, 2020 we disbursed grant funds to eligible students who did not complete a certification. Each student received $315.
  7. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham created the following website to inform students of CARES Act Funds. This website outlines the eligibility criteria for the funds, the distribution method, and Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, below is a link to the mass communication sent to eligible students.

Emergency student assistance funding – act nowWednesday, June 24

The ongoing public health crisis created by the global coronavirus pandemic has affected each of us in many ways. You have responded tremendously to the challenges of the transition to remote instruction for the spring and summer semesters and other changes we have taken to protect the health and safety of our community. The disruption due to COVID-19 has nevertheless created unexpected financial hardships for many of our students.

UAB, along with universities across the nation, has received a federal grant to provide emergency funding to eligible students to help cover some expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. Eligible expenses include:

  • Food
  • Housing and moving expenses
  • Technology for online classes
  • Instructional supplies
  • Transportation
  • Child care
  • Health care and medical expenses

Who can receive funds?

Students who were enrolled at UAB for the Spring 2020 semester and meet Title IV eligibility requirements are eligible for this funding. UAB is awarding the funding based on a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), with awards ranging from $50 to $900.

To receive funds, students must meet Title IV eligibility requirements. These include:

  • U.S. citizenship (or eligible noncitizen)
  • Valid Social Security number
  • Registration with Selective Service (for male students)
  • Enrollment in a degree or certificate program (in the Spring 2020 semester)

Who is not eligible?

Not all students are eligible; this includes international students, undocumented students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs in the Spring 2020 semester.

How do I receive funds?

To receive these funds, students must certify that they have incurred expenses related to the disruption due to COVID-19. You can complete this certification through this online form now through June 1.

In order to determine Title IV eligibility, students must also have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for the 2019-2020 academic year on file in order to be considered. You may fill out the FAFSA form now if you have not already done so by going to this page on studentaid.gov.

What is the source of these funds?

These funds are made available to UAB by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The amount of funds available for disbursement to institutions was determined using a formula based on enrollment, a school’s proportion of students receiving federal aid and other metrics. It is important to note that these HEERF funds are just one of the ways in which UAB is addressing the needs of our students during this unprecedented public health crisis. Our Student COVID-19 Emergency Fund, created through university and community support, has supported more than 800 students.

How can I learn more?

Visit UAB's Coronavirus webpage to find answers to frequently asked questions and contact information.

Thank you for your continuing efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through aggressive social distancing and good hygiene. These are important measures we must take to save lives and prevent the spread of the virus. We all look forward to meeting together again in person on our beautiful campus. Until this is possible, please stay safe and take your responsibility to flatten the curve seriously. Stay up to date on the latest UAB information and expert medical guidance at uab.edu/coronavirus.

Best regards,

Pam Benoit

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost

John Jones

Vice President for Student Affairs