Financial Aid

ARP: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III

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

NOTE: Information available on additional COVID-19 funding provided UC and students. Information on UC's response to coronavirus is also available at our university COVID-19 resource site

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, that was signed into law on March 11, 2021. It provides $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

UC's allocation for HEERF III is $69,995,422, of which $35,417,151 is to be used as "student aid portion" and $34,578,271 for institutional expenses.

ARP funds are in addition to funds authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260 designated as HEERF II and the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law 116-136 designated as HEERF I. Emergency funds available to all institutions and their students under the three HEERF emergency fund measures total $76.2 billion.

Funding was again distributed by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education aimed at institutional support as well as direct student assistance. Fund usage by UC is also reported and posted quarterly.


HEERF III Funding for Students

The University of Cincinnati recognizes that students continue to see the affects of the COVID pandemic. While a return to normalcy is desired and is becoming more a reality, the coronavirus continues to impact the campus community and students day-to-day. Economic impacts of the pandemic continue to be an issue.

Students enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants via HEERF III. Unlike with HEERF I & II where completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eligibility for Title IV aid was required, HEERF III allows some flexibility. At the same time, institutions are directed when making HEERF III awards to once again prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances.

The university seeks to help as many students as possible address the unexpected expenses and losses due to COVID-19. Funds are to be distributed to students as follows (with additional awarding measures detailed as they are developed):

  • Spring and summer 2021
    • Up to $2000 in Federal Emergency Relief 3 awards
      • Enrolled for spring 2021 or summer 2021 as reviewed on July 6, 2021
      • Shown to have financial issues at this time by having an unpaid balance owed the university
        • Total expenditure:  $2,173,962
         
  • Fall 2021
    • $2000 in Federal Emergency Relief 3 awards
      • Enrolled at least half-time as reviewed on August 11 and September 2 and 17
      • High financial need as shown by completing the FAFSA
      • Some awards made using remaining HEERF II funding
        • Total expenditure:  $13,810,174.50
    •  6 hours tuition in Federal Emergency Relief 3 awards
      • Enrolled in UCBA Bearcat Reboot program
        • Total expenditure:  $13,464
  • Emergency Fund Applications
    • Up to $1,000 in Federal Emergency Relief 3E awards
    • Consideration
      • Experienced additional expenses related to education while enrolled or had a loss of income (for you or for someone that would have assisted in meeting your educational costs) due to COVID
      • Enrolled at UC for one or multiple terms since spring 2020 including awarding term
      • Awards may be limited by other HEERF3 funding up to or exceeding $1,000
    • Application
      • Student may be awarded, placed on hold, or denied during the review period. 
      • Primary consideration will be given to students who have high financial need (as demonstrated through completing the FAFSA), have been enrolled multiple terms during the pandemic, and have not already received CARES or HEERF funding.
      • Apply for UC Federal Emergency Relief 3 Appeal via Scholarship Search tile within Catalyst available beginning July 1, 2021, and remaining open as applications are reviewed.
        • Total Expenditure Spring & Summer 2021: $1,108,801
        • Total Expenditure Fall 2021: $2,344,828

NOTE: The University of Cincinnati meets the definition of high need and Federal Pell Grant eligibility though the expected family contribution (EFC) determined by a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate aid year. Students eligible to complete the FAFSA should do so.

Consideration could be given to any UC student enrolled during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency which was declared during spring 2020 and continues today.

While all students enrolled over this timeframe can be considered, the Department of Education instructs institutions to continue to prioritize undergraduate students with exceptional need as determined by a completed FAFSA. Other points of consideration when making awards will include, but are not limited to, number of terms enrolled during the pandemic and receipt of other HEERF funds (noted as CARES or Federal Emergency Relief on student bills).

HEERF III funding was awarded differently than HEERF I/CARES and HEERF II. UC made awards for previous programs directly to the bill and refunded students.

HEERF III funds will be awarded on the financial aid award offer and disbused to the student bill. Prior to disbursement, students will be given the option to have funds apply to any outstanding balance before any refund is generated in order to assist students with their educational costs. The awards, bill posting, and any refund process will be visible to you in Catalyst.

Students should always monitor their To Do List within Catalyst. When HEERF awards are intitially made, you will be assigned an agreement to elect how you want your HEERF funds applied. Delays in completing this agreement can delay your award processing.

Receiving a HEERF refund (or any 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, HEERF III 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.

As noted, HEERF III funds will show as part of your financial aid offer in Catalyst. However, they do not count against your financial aid budget/limit or reduce other aid eligibility due to the unique nature of these funds.

NOTE: Other funds listed on your award offer are subject to federal limitations that can restrict other aid.

Determinations on taxability are done by the Internal Revenue Service, but indications are that these funds will not be viewed as taxable income. Recipients of funds should monitor irs.gov for details. At the same time, taxability may not be detailed until closer to or soon after the end of a tax year (i.e., December 2021-March 2022 regarding HEERF III monies received in 2021).

Distribution of Funds

The University of Cincinnati has, to date, used 54.9% of its allocated HEERF III funds for students by making Federal Emergency Relief Fund 3 awards.

  • As of October 20, 2021
  • Total federal HEERF III funds received: $35,417,151
  • Total federal HEERF III funds awarded: $19,451,229.50
  • Number of awards of Federal Emergency Relief 3: 11,900

This information will be updated as the university makes determinations on eligibility for student groups, and awarding is anticipated to be made over several terms.


Fund Transactions & Refunds

Awards made will post to financial aid awards and student accounts as Federal Emergency Relief Funds 3. Federal Emergency Relief Funds are intended to help with expenses due to coronavirus.

Awarded students will be given the opportunity via an assigned To Do item in Catalyst to have their Federal Emergency Relief Funds applied toward any outstanding charges owed to UC (with excess amounts refunded to the student) or have funds entirely refunded to the student. Students who do not make an election one way or another could have refunds delayed 21 days when the full amount of the Emergency Relief would be issued.

Awards and the associated refunds will appear on your award offer and then the bill within Catalyst.

Even if you request funds to be applied to your outstanding charges, receipt of a refund does not indicate your financial obligations to UC have been paid.

Always review your current financial status within Catalyst, and monitor it routinely during the term (and particularly after course changes) to see that any charges to your bill are addressed. Failure to meet payment obligations can carry penalties including late fees and registration blocks. 

Students should confirm they are currently enrolled in direct deposit with an active bank account to speed any refund process. Direct deposit enrollees will see deposits 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.