Financial Aid

CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

This information is provided to comply with the U.S. Department of Education’s CARES Act: HEERF reporting requirements.

NOTE: While this was the initial federal funding for COVID-19, additional funding was provided UC and students. Information on UC's response to coronavirus is also available at our university COVID-19 resource site.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided fast and direct economic assistance to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Within that legislation, education stabilization funding was allocated to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education specifically designated as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Funds received by UC were aimed at institutional efforts as well as direct student assistance.


HEERF Funding for Institutions of Higher Education

The Department awarded funding to institutions of higher education based on a formula stipulated in the legislation.

This funding is intended to cover costs or losses, as applicable, associated with the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. Institutions are anticipated to spend funds immediately but have up to one calendar year to complete the performance of their HEERF grants.

Quarterly reporting of fund usage is also posted.


HEERF Funding for Students

The University of Cincinnati recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic created some very challenging circumstances for our students. We also understand that the transition to remote instruction along with the Governor’s Shelter-in-Place order have led to additional, unexpected financial challenges.

The CARES HEERF monies provided UC $11,763,656 to be made available as direct assistance to students.  

UC sought to help as many students as possible address the unexpected expenses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and distributed funding to students as follows:

  • Spring 2020
    • $250 CARES awards 
      • Title IV-eligible student
      • Enrolled at least half-time for spring 2020 on March 16, 2020
      • In a non-distance learning, degree-seeking program
        • Total expenditure: $5,584,500
    • Additional $250 awards (for a combined amount of $500) 
      • All of the above criteria
      • Expected family contribution (EFC) at or less than 10,000
        • Total expenditure: $2,791,000
           
  • Summer 2020
    • $250 CARES awards 
      • Title IV-eligible student
      • Enrolled at least half-time for summer 2020 on May 22, 2020
      • In a non-distance learning, degree-seeking program
        • Total expenditure: $1,586,500
    • Additional $250 awards (for a combined amount of $500) 
      • All of the above criteria
      • Expected family contribution (EFC) at or less than 10,000
        • Total expenditure: $791,500
           
  • Emergency Fund Applications
    • Up to $500 CARES Emergency awards
      • Title IV-eligible student
      • Enrolled for spring 2020 or summer 2020
      • In a non-distance learning, degree-seeking program
      • Not awarded other UC emergency funding
      • Application for UC Coronavirus/COVID-19 Student Emergency Funding via Scholarship Search tile within Catalyst while funding remained available
      • Emergency Grant requests that met CARES limitations.
        • Total expenditure: $627,331
           
  • UCBA Regional Campus Fall 2020
    • Up to $200 CARES awards 
      • Title IV-eligible student
      • Enrolled full-time for fall 2020 by October 1, 2020
      • In a UCBA non-distance learning, degree-seeking program
        • Total expenditure: $50,000
           
  • Fall 2020
    • Up to $275 if full-time and $200 if part-time CARES awards 
      • Title IV-eligible student with -0- EFC
      • Enrolled at least half-time for fall 2020 on December 16, 2020
      • In a non-distance learning, degree-seeking program
      • Non-CARES recipient via above determinations as of December 16, 2020
        • Total expenditure: $382,825

Title IV (federal aid) eligibility was a requirement established by the U.S. Department of Education. The University of Cincinnati meets this requirement and identified the expected family contribution (EFC) through a completed 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 16, 2020 (spring) or May 22, 2020 (summer) or 2020-21 FAFSA by December 16, 2020 (fall).

Read more about support for UC students during this time.

More than 22,000 students—undergraduate (including regional campuses), graduate, Law and Medicine—received spring funding as long as they were Title IV-eligible, in a non-distance learning program, and enrolled at least half-time for spring semester 2020 on March 16th. Awards were $250 or $500 depending on estimated family contribution (EFC). 

Similarly, more than 6,000 students received summer funding using similar criteria.

All students who were enrolled at least half-time for term were considered for funding. If you met the other award criteria, you still were awarded funds even though the funding may not have been distributed until after you graduated.

The funding was awarded via the UC billing system with the awards and refund process visible to you in Catalyst. At the same time, because these awards are intended to assist students with expenses related to COVID-19 and the changes in instruction and access to the university, funds were refunded to students even if you owed money to UC for a past or current bill.

Receiving a refund is not a sign that you no longer owe a balance to UC. Students should always review their online bill via Catalyst.

Based on the action taken by Congress when creating this funding, the CARES Act funds, while awarded by UC, are not considered financial aid and were specifically designated not to affect Title IV (federal aid) eligibility. Only Congress can bypass the rules of Title IV eligibility as they also wrote the laws that created the federal aid programs.

Such determinations are ultimately made by the Internal Revenue Service. Students should refer to irs.gov for guidance and latest information for CARES Act emergency relief given through educational institutions.

Distribution of Funds

The University of Cincinnati signed and returned the CARES HEERF Certification and Agreement to the Department of Education and has, to date, used 100% of the funds received to date under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

  • As of December 17, 2020
  • Total federal CARES Act funds received: $11,763,656
  • Total federal CARES Act funds awarded: $11,763,656
  • Number of students eligible to participate in Title IV: 26,069
  • Number of recipients of federal CARES Act spring grants: 22,338
  • Number of recipients of federal CARES Act summer grants: 6,346
  • Number of recipients of federal CARES Act emergency grants: 1,254
  • Number of recipients of federal CARES Act fall grants: 1,474

Additionally, UC Blue Ash (UCBA) received an additional award under Section 18004(a)(2) of the CARES Act for HEERF funding to be made available to students fall 2020.

  • As of November 10, 2020
  • Total federal CARES Act funds received for UCBA: $50,000
  • Total federal CARES Act funds awarded: $50,000
  • Number of recipients of federal CARES Act fall grants: 249

Fund Transactions & Refunds

CARES Act Funds will be posted to student accounts and immediately refunded to the student. Students should confirm they are currently enrolled in direct deposit with an active bank account. CARES Act Funds and the associated refund will appear on your bill within Catalyst.

The CARES Act Funds are intended to help with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. CARES ACT Funds will be issued to students even if the student has a balance due UC. Receipt of a refund does not indicate your financial obligations to UC have been paid. Always review your current financial status within Catalyst

Funds will be deposited directly into your bank account 2-3 days after the refund transaction appears on your student account. Students without direct deposit will be sent a paper check that could take up to 10 days for processing.