HEERF III - American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021

On April 15, 2020 the University signed and submitted the Certification and Agreement to provide emergency grants to students through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I) as authorized by section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.  The terms of the initial HEERF I agreement were subsequently approved and extended to cover the HEERF II allocation as authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, (CRRSAA), as well as the HEERF III allocation as authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

 

The University acknowledges, accepts, and remains fully committed to disseminating these funds in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Certification and Agreement that was signed and submitted on April 15, 2020

 

Distribution Initiatives: 

As with previous HEERF allocations, institutions are instructed to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as undergraduate students that currently receive a Federal Pell Grant or have documented circumstances resulting in extraordinary financial hardship.  Given that the HEERF III student allocation is more than the HEERF I & II allocations combined, the University has implemented three initiatives to distribute these funds.  Using guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, the HEERF III student allocation will be distributed to students with the greatest demonstrated financial need and potential for financial hardship due to the ongoing pandemic.  The University is committed to distributing payments directly to students utilizing the three following initiatives. 

 

  • Block I Grant Initiative (No application required. Mass Distribution to all students who qualified prior to October 12, 2021)

The largest percentage of the HEERF III student allocation, and by far the most impactful, has been spent through the Block I Grant initiative. The Block I Grants were distributed in mass on October 14, 2021 to all students who met the following selection criteria.  No additional application was required. 

  • Enrolled as of October 12, 2021 for the Fall 2021 term.
  • Have a 2021-2022 processed FAFSA, with an EFC status of “official”, submitted and received by SMU on or before October 12, 2021.
  • Have a calculated EFC of $10,000 or less

Additional requirements:

  • Undergraduate Students:
    • Must have at least one need-based aid program awarded and disbursed to their student account for the Fall 2021 term, or
    • Must have earnings during the fall 2021 term from a federal or state work study program.
  • Graduate and Professional Students:
    • Must have net proceeds from a federal, state, or private educational student loan program disbursed to the student account for the fall 2021 term.

All eligible students received a secure message through the My.SMU dashboard message center that included a link to the Block Grant Recipient webpage.  The recipient webpage contained information on the distribution process along with  step-by-step instructions on how to accept the funds. 

 

This ongoing initiative extends access to HEERF funds to those students who did not meet the October 12 deadline for Block I Grant mass distribution.   The Block II Grant is intended to provide access to a much broader population of students. 

Block II Eligibility Criteria:   Students who wish to be considered for the Block II Grant must meet the following criteria:

  • Did not receive a Block I Grant
  • Enrolled in classes for the current term.
  • Have a 2021-2022 processed FAFSA, with an EFC status of “official”, submitted and received by SMU
  • Have a calculated official EFC of $10,000 or less

Additional requirements:

  • Undergraduate Students:
    • Must have at least one need-based aid program awarded and disbursed to their student account for the current term, or
    • Must have earnings during the current term from a federal or state work study program.
  • Graduate and Professional Students:
    • Must have net proceeds from a federal, state, or private educational student loan program disbursed to the student account for the current term.

 

Block Grant Award Amounts and Restrictions:  The award amount for both Block Grant initiatives is  based on the FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as of the date of review. 

  • Eligible students with an official EFC of 0 – 5,846 receive $3,000.  
  • Eligible students with an official EFC of 5,847 – 10,000 receive $2,000. 

Students may only receive one of the HEERF III block grants.  Multiple block grants are not permitted.       

 

  • Special Needs Grant Initiative –   Click Here To Apply Reviewed on a case by case basis. Intended to address educational expenses that exceed the award limits placed on the Block Grant. Supporting documentation is required for all expenses.  

The third initiative extends eligibility to students who did not automatically qualify for either of the Block Grants OR to students with documented educational expenses that exceed the award limits placed on the Block Grants.  This initiative was launched in August, 2021 to provide up to $6400 in emergency financial assistance to students with expenses, directly or indirectly related to, or as a result of, COVID-19.  Individual award amounts vary depending on the list of claimed expenses and supporting documents.   Examples of covered expenses include, but are not limited to, Doctor’s visits or medical bills not covered by insurance, extended physical therapy, prescriptions and/or PPE equipment, costs associated with quarantine facilities, child and elder expenses related to COVID, travel costs to and from medical visits, medical testing, etc.

 

Currently, there are two pathways to apply for the HEERF III Special Needs Grant.  First, the Special Needs Grants serves as a natural extension of the SMU Student Emergency Fund; a program already in place through the Office of the Student Advocacy and Support / Caring Community Connections (CCC).  The CCC program requires a formal application from anyone who is needing financial assistance with a broad range of needs.  However, as part of the review process, staff are trained to flag the requests where the circumstances are tied back to, or are as a result of, the COVID19 pandemic.  Once identified, the application, case file and supporting documentation are immediately forwarded to the Office of Financial Aid for HEERF III consideration.  The second pathway to the Special Needs Grant is through an online application link which allows the student to submit a request for HEERF III consideration directly to the Office of Financial Aid.  Regardless of pathway, the student must be able to provide sufficient documentation to support their request.

 

Application Procedure for the Block II and the Special Needs Grant:  Students must submit a HEERF III Emergency Grant Request to be considered for the Block II Grant or the Special Needs Grant.  All applications will be reviewed for Block II Grant eligibility first, regardless of supporting documentation.  Further consideration for the Special Needs Grant will be based solely on the supporting documentation received with the application.  All applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

 

NOTE:  The combined award amount from all HEERF III initiatives (Block I, Block II, and Special Needs Grants) cannot exceed the $6400 per student maximum limit.

 

HEERF III Student Portion Reporting 

Third Quarter Spending Report (As of September 30, 2021)

  • Southern Methodist University acknowledges and accepts the terms of the Certification and Agreement signed and submitted on April 15, 2020.
  • Southern Methodist University’s allocation for HEERF III is $11,890,080 of which $5,945,103 is to be used for direct support to students (Student Portion) and $5,944,977 for institutional expenses (Institutional Portion).
  • Spending Summary
    • Special Needs Grant - $12,894 
      • Eligibility determined on a case by case basis through the Special Needs application process described above.
      • During the Summer Term / Fall Term 2021 (As of Sept. 30, 2021) SMU has distributed a combined total of $12,894 in Special Needs Grants to less than ten students as of September 30,2021
      • Each approved recipient received an email notification containing step-by-step information on how to accept the funds.  
    • Block Grant Initiatives -  $0.00 
      • As of September 30, 2021, there were no funds distributed under either of the Block Grant initiatives.
      • Block I Grants will be issued and subsequently reported in the upcoming fourth quarter report which is due in January 2022. 

Download HEERF III Reporting Institutional Portion

SMU recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create a financial burden for the families of many students who do not necessarily qualify for federal aid.  Students with additional needs should complete a request for emergency funding through Caring Community Connections (CCC).

Alumni and friends who wish to donate money to support students impacted by hardships surrounding COVID-19 may give to the Presidential Fund for Immediate Needs.

If you have additional questions about the American Rescue Plan (ARP) HEERF III financial relief package, please see HEERF Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the Division of Enrollment Services at enrol_serv@smu.edu or 214-768-3417.

Copies of the communications sent to eligible students will be provided upon request.