On March 27th, 2020, the United States Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the negative economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. This bill provided $2.2 trillion in economic aid to U.S. citizens who were negatively impacted by the pandemic and allocated $14 billion to establish the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, (HEERF). Through the HEERF program, institutions of higher education agreed to use the student portion to award emergency financial aid grants to students and to use the institutional portion to offset operational costs incurred due to the pandemic.
Since passing the CARES Act, Congress has passed two additional pieces of legislation, each providing resources to the Higher Education Emergency Fund. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, passed in Late December 2020, increased emergency assistance for higher education by $23 billion. The most recent piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan of 2021, was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, and established an additional $40 billion in emergency assistance. The funds provided through each of these bills are referred to as HEERF I (Cares), HEERF II (CRRSA) and HEERF III (ARP)
For more information on how SMU utilized HEERF funds, click on of the links below.