What is HEERF III, and who is eligible?

Students enrolled in higher education institutions can apply for the third installment of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Requirements for eligibility have changed, allowing more students to receive funding.

Students wearing face masks are taking notes in a Western Civilization history class in Heritage Hall during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic, April 2021.Photography: Andrea MabryHigher education students who were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for a new wave of financial relief funding.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Tyler Peterson, executive director of Admissions, Financial Aid and Scholarships, is encouraging students across the country to apply through their institution to receive money now available as part of the third installment of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

“So many students were impacted financially from the pandemic, whether from losing a job to gaining additional expenses, such as technology or unexpected childcare needs,” Peterson said. “The government has given money to higher education institutions across the country to help alleviate some of the financial stress. Students do not have to pay back the money. If they qualify, it is theirs to help them through this tough time.”

What is HEERF?

In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed, creating the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. This fund provides colleges and universities the means to provide support to students who saw financial hardships as a result of the pandemic. Hardships include added technology expenses, lost wages, overdue charges on student accounts and unexpected childcare expenses, among others.

UAB students can check their eligibility through BlazerNet or through this link.

What is different about the third installment of HEERF?

In the previous two HEERF installments, eligibility was limited to students who had demonstrated need through financial aid applications such as FAFSA. The funds will be automatically dispersed to student accounts or can be applied to their student account, pending need.  

With HEERF III, the requirements for eligibility have changed, allowing more students to receive funding. However, the students must apply for the funding this round.

Will HEERF aid have to be paid back?

The aid acts like a grant; therefore, students will not have to pay back the federal government. Funding received can be used to assist students with financial needs such as educational costs, housing, food and health care expenses. 

“We encourage students to apply,” Peterson said. “The payment goes directly to students who qualify, and they choose how to utilize the money to help where needed.”

Who can apply?

Undergraduate and graduate students at public and private institutions who experienced financial hardships due to the pandemic can apply to receive the funding.

Some financial expenses could include:

  • Withdrawing from classes due to job loss
  • Purchasing a new laptop for online learning
  • Upgrading internet for online learning
  • Extra childcare costs
  • And more

Active students, students who have not yet graduated, and those who were enrolled for college courses in fall 2020, spring 2021 and summer 2021 online or on campus are eligible to apply.

Students who applied and received aid during the first and second installment of HEERF are also eligible to apply for this round of funding.

Environmental headshot of Tyler Peterson (Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Undergraduate Admissions), March 2021.Tyler Peterson, UAB executive director of Admissions, Financial Aid and Scholarships Photography: Lexi Coon
How can a student apply?

Students and parents can reach out to their institution’s financial aid office to receive information on how to apply. If eligible, students will be asked to provide a brief explanation of how COVID-19 created emergency expenses and select how they would like to receive their funding.

Priority funding will be given to students who are Pell grant-eligible and those with exceptional need. Amounts may vary based on need and the availability of funds. Most institutions will continue to offer HEERF-III grants until funds have been exhausted.

Approved HEERF-III student emergency grants will be paid directly to eligible students. Students with outstanding balances can work with their financial aid offices to apply HEERF-III payments to their student account through the Emergency Relief Form. 

For more information on HEERF III, click here.