CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Grant for Students

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law. This new law expanded the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (now known as HEERFIII) and provided Suffolk University with additional funds designated for student grants. The HEERF III grants may be used for any component of the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, housing, health care or child care) or for emergency costs associated with COVID-19.

The University has developed a process to begin the distribution of the $6,552,341 available for HEERF III grants to students. There are two components to the process.

1. Students who meet the established criteria will automatically be awarded a HEERF III grant of $1000-$2000. To be eligible for the automatic HEERF III grant, students must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Enrolled as an undergraduate in the Fall 2021 semester as of August 30, 2021 or in the Spring 2022 semester as of January 10, 2022.
  • Completed the Suffolk University financial aid application process, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to allow for an accurate assessment of the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as of August 30, 2021 for Fall 2021 or by January 10, 2022 for Spring 2022.
  • Student’s EFC does not exceed 20,000.

Approximately 1921 students who meet the eligibility criteria will receive HEERF III grants in the following amounts for the Fall 2021 semester:

  • EFC 0-5846 $2000
  • EFC 5847-20,000 $1000

Approximately 1782 students who meet the eligibility criteria will receive HEERF III grants in the following amounts for the Spring 2022 semester:

  • EFC 0-5846 $2000
  • EFC 5847-20,000 $1000

Students in this group can elect to have HEERF III funds applied to their tuition account by providing the University with authorization by September 20, 2021 for Fall 2021. For Spring 2002, the deadline to provide authorization is January 31, 2022. All other eligible students will receive HEERF III grants as a direct disbursement via the University’s e-refund process.

2. HEERF III funds will also be awarded via an application process. Students seeking support must complete the HEERF III Application. Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Availability of HEERF III funds.
  • Student is facing a significant financial hardship.
  • Student was enrolled at Suffolk University on or after March 13, 2020.

HEERF III grants made via the application process will range between $500 - $2000 per student. Applications from students with an outstanding tuition balance and who have exhausted their Federal Direct Subsidized Loan and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility for the academic year will receive priority consideration. Via the application process, students may elect to apply any HEERF III funds awarded to their tuition account or receive the funds directly through the e-refund process.

As of September 30, 2021, Suffolk University has distributed $3,066,043 in HEERF III funds to 1963 students.

As of December 31, 2021, Suffolk University has distributed $3,250,356 in HEERF III funds to 2116 students.

3. As required under ARPA, financial aid applicants for 2021-2022 were notified of the possibility of a Professional Judgement Appeal. On October 27, 2021, the following email was sent to 4448 eligible students via their Suffolk email account:

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021 to provide emergency assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic. This represents the third round of funding allocated to Suffolk University via the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III). One provision of ARP requires the Student Financial Services Office conduct direct outreach to financial aid applicants to inform them of the opportunity to apply for a Professional Judgement Appeal.

Financial Aid eligibility for the 2021-22 academic year is calculated based on income information from 2019 provided on the FAFSA. We understand there may be situations when a student’s current financial situation is not fully reflected by the information on the FAFSA. Under the guidance of the Department of Education, these students may be considered for a special circumstances review called “Professional Judgement.” If your 2019 income is not an accurate reflection of your current financial situation, you may request a review of your eligibility using more recent information.

Professional Judgement Appeals are typically available to students who meet one of the following criteria:

  • For dependent students, unemployment or significant loss of income for a parent since 2019.
  • For independent students including all graduate and law students, unemployment or significant loss of income for the student since 2019.
  • Significant medical expenses not covered by insurance during 2020 or 2021 as a result of COVID-19.

If you believe extenuating or unusual circumstances caused by the pandemic may have impacted your financial aid eligibility, you should contact your financial aid counselor via email, and provide a detailed explanation of the change to your situation. If your counselor determines you are eligible for a Professional Judgement Appeal, you will receive an email with a list of required documents to process your appeal. Appeals submitted without supporting documentation will not be considered.

The Office of Student Financial Services will assist you to understand your options and determine if additional assistance may be available based on your circumstances. Please note that not all circumstances will be eligible for consideration, and not all appeals will result in additional financial aid. Additional financial aid, including HEERF III grants, for approved appeals will be provided based on eligibility and availability of funds.

If you have any questions regarding the appeal process, please do not hesitate to reach out to your financial aid counselor.

Information on HEERF Distributions

On December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CCRSSA) was signed into law. This new law expanded the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (now known as HEERFII) and provided Suffolk University with additional funds designated for student grants. The HEERF II grants may be used for any component of the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, housing, health care or child care) or for emergency costs associated with COVID-19.

The University has developed a process to distribute the $2,467,684 available for HEERF II grants to students. There are two components to the process.

1. Students who met the established criteria were automatically awarded a HEERF II grant of $2000. To be eligible for the automatic HEERF II grant, students must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Eligible for a Federal Pell Grant
  • Enrolled in the Spring 2021 semester as of February 8, 2021.
  • Not a recipient of a full tuition scholarship (Nathan Miller program) or full tuition benefit (Suffolk University tuition benefit or Veterans Benefits).

Students in this group who elected to have HEERF II funds applied to their tuition account were required to provide the University with authorization by February 17, 2021. All other eligible students received HEERF II grants as a direct disbursement via the e-refund process.

As of February 19, 2021, the University provided $1,942,000 to 971 students who met the eligibility criteria. As of March 31, 2021, the University provided $2,109,784 to 1129 students who met the eligibility criteria. As of June 22, 2021, the University had provided the full allocation of $2,647,684 in student HEERF II funds to 1227 eligible students.

2. All remaining HEERF II funds will be awarded via an application process. Students seeking support must complete the HEERF II Application. Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Availability of HEERF II funds.
  • Student is facing a significant financial hardship.
  • Student was enrolled at Suffolk University on or after March 13, 2020.

HEERF II grants made via the application process will range between $500 - $2000 per student. Applications from students with an outstanding tuition balances and who have exhausted their Federal

Direct Subsidized Loan and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility for the academic year will receive priority consideration. Via the application process, students may elect to apply any HEERF II funds awarded to their tuition account or receive the funds directly through the e-refund process.

On March 13, 2020, a national emergency was declared due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In response, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Among other provisions, the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”). On April 30, 2020, Suffolk University signed and submitted to the United States Department of Education (“Department”) the Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, required of all institutions participating in the HEERF.

As required by the CARES Act, the University will make available no less than fifty percent of the HEERF funds that it receives to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to eligible students to assist with covering expenses incurred after March 13, 2020 that are related to the disruptions of campus operations due to COVID-19. Under the CARES Act, eligible students may receive HEERF Emergency Financial Aid Grants (“HEERF Grants”) to cover such expenses as, for example, food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care, and other expenses that are related to campus disruptions due to COVID-19 (“Eligible Expenses”).

As of December 2, 2020 Suffolk University's entire initial allocation of $2,467,684 in HEERF student grant funding has been distributed to eligible recipients who completed the required certification of expenses. The funds were distributed as follows:

  • Spring 2020 - 2725 students received $1,632,800
  • Fall 2020 - 2836 students received $834,884

The process for distributing the funds during each semester is outlined below. As of January 18, 2021, Suffolk University has been granted an additional $2,467,684 to award as Higher Education Emergency Grants to students. We are developing a process to provide these funds to eligible students. Please monitor your Suffolk email and this site for additional details on this program in the coming weeks. 

As of 9/29/20, Suffolk University had approximately $835,684 in HEERF student funds available for distribution. Given ongoing disruptions to normal campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic anticipated for the fall 2020 semester, students who meet the following criteria will be considered for CARES Act grants:

  • Suffolk University students enrolled in an academic program approved to participate in Title IV programs as of September 29 2020, except those enrolled in a program offered exclusively on-line (our graduate SBS programs and the certificate in Disability Studies). Based on data obtained from the University Registrar’s Office, there were 6558 students who met this first set of criteria.
  • Of the group outlined above, 4217students have a processed FAFSA for the 2020-21 academic year on file with the University. Students who were not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements or who had not submitted required documents to establish Title IV eligibility were then eliminated from the pool. A group of 4188 students remained eligible for HEERF consideration.

To prioritize the students with the greatest need as recommended in the Secretary’s letter, the group potentially eligible for HEERF funds were separated into two sections: Federal Pell Grant eligible students (1099 students) and all others (3089 students). Based on the pool of HEERF available funds designated for students applying in the Fall 2020 for CARES Act funds, recommended grant amounts would be:

Non-Pell eligible students: $200 per student

Pell eligible students: $200 per student plus an amount equal to the remaining Suffolk CARES Act funds (after distribution of $200 to all applicants) divided by the number of Pell eligible students who applied for funds in September – estimated to be not more than a total of $400 per student

All potentially eligible students will be sent a certification request via their Suffolk email on 10/01/20 with a submission deadline of 10/16/20. Since funds are still available the deadline has been extended to November 6, 2020.

As of November 16, 2020 the University has $128,684 in remaining in HEERF funds for students. As a result, students will be notified via their Suffolk email of a second round of Fall 2020 HEERF distributions. Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis until all remaining funds have been disbursed.

HEEREF Instructions [DOC] (PLEASE NOTE: Firefox users will need to download the PDF for it to appear correctly).

Suffolk University has received from the Department $2,467,684 to provide HEERF Grants to the approximately 4,240 Suffolk University students eligible to receive a HEERF Grant.

  • As of May 22, 2020, the University had approved $896,000.00 in HEERF Grants to approximately 1471 eligible students.
  • As of June 12, 2020 the University had approved a total of $1,281,000 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2118 eligible students.
  • As of July 10, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,446,100 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2408 eligible students.
  • As of August 5, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,622,800 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2708 eligible students.
  • As of August 27, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,627,700 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2716 students.
  • As of September 21, 2020, the University had approved a total of $1,631,500 in HEERF Grants to approximately 2723 students.

To ensure HEERF Grant recipients met the eligibility criteria established by the US Department of Education, the University reviewed its records on May 7, 2020 to identify those students who met all of the following conditions:

  1. Enrollment as of March 13, 2020 in an academic program which was both approved to participate in Title IV federal student aid programs and not offered exclusively in an online format;
  2. Submission to the University of a processed 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form on or before May 7, 2020; and
  3. Satisfaction of all student eligibility requirements under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 on or before May 7, 2020.

The University determined that the most appropriate method for distributing HEERF Grants to eligible students would be through standard grant amounts for two groups of students, prioritizing needier students as encouraged by the Department: a larger amount for Pell recipients, and a smaller amount for all other eligible students. The University understands all eligible students experienced disruption to normal campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following factors were considered to determine the size of HEERF Grants for Suffolk students:

  1. The amount of funding available ($2,467,684)
  2. The number of Federal Pell Grant recipients who met the requirements for consideration (1194)
  3. The number of non-Federal Pell Grant recipients who met the requirements for consideration (3046)
  4. An estimation of the dollar ranges for different categories of Eligible Expenses associated with the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When all factors were considered, grant amounts were set at $800 for each Federal Pell Grant recipient and $500 for non-Federal Pell Grant Recipients who certified they incurred sufficient eligible expenses under the CARES Act. The University estimated that the amount of likely Eligible Expenses our eligible students would incur would likely meet or exceed the higher grant amount.

On May 12, 2020, all 4240 Suffolk University students identified as eligible for HEERF Grants were notified of the process to receive emergency grants via their Suffolk email accounts. In addition, students were sent several email reminder notices in advance of the August 1st due date. Students were instructed to complete two steps to receive consideration:

  1. Complete a Suffolk University HEERF Grant certification form to confirm that they incurred or anticipated that they will incur Eligible Expenses in an amount equal to or greater than the HEERF Grant amount that they will be receiving.
  2. Create an eRefund account in SU Pay to receive the HEERF funds electronically deposited in the student’s bank account, if it was not created previously.

Students who indicate that they have or will incur Eligible Expenses in an amount less than the standard grant of $500 or $800 will be eligible to receive a smaller amount up to the amount of Eligible Expenses that they actually incurred. Students will receive an email via their Suffolk University email account indicating if their request has been approved or denied. Approved requests will be disbursed within 7-10 business days.

The first disbursements of HEERF student emergency grants took place during the week of May 18-May 22, 2020. Updated information on the number of students receiving funds will provided after that time.

Copies of the information, guidance and instructions provided by the University to eligible students is below.

Instructions for Federal Pell Grant recipients [DOC]

Instructions for Non-Federal Pell Grant recipients [DOC]

Suffolk University has received from the Department a total of $13,932,881 via three rounds of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Institutional Share. These funds were designated for University costs associated with significant changes to the institution's delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.