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.

 

Grant Eligibility and Selection Criteria

As with previous HEERF allocations, institutions are instructed to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as undergraduate students who currently receive a Federal Pell Grant or have documented circumstances resulting in extraordinary financial hardship.  Given 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 using the three following initiatives. 

 

  • Block I Grant InitiativeMass Distribution to all students who met the following criteria 

The largest percentage of the HEERF III student allocation 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, which 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. 

Block I 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. 

 

  • Block II Grant Initiative Mass Distribution to all students who met the following criteria

    • Enrolled in classes for the Spring 2022 term as of February 28, 2022
    • Has a 2021-2022 processed FAFSA, with an EFC status of “official”, submitted and received by SMU on or before February 28, 2022
    • Did not receive a HEERF III / Block I Grant or a Special Needs Grant
    • Has a calculated official EFC of 15,000 or less

   Additional Requirements:

  • Undergraduate Students:
    • Must have at least one need-based aid program awarded and disbursed to their student account for the Spring 2022 term, or
    • Must have earnings from a federal or state work study program in the current academic year.  
  •  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 Spring 2022 term.

Block II Grant Award Amounts and Restrictions: The award amount is determined by 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 – 15,000 receive $2,000. 

Recipients received an award notification on the My.SMU student dashboard, which 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. Students may only receive one of the HEERF III block grants.  Multiple block grants are not permitted       

 

  • Special Needs Grant Initiative–   SMU is no longer accepting applications for the Special Needs Grant

    Each application is reviewed case by case. Intended to address educational expenses that exceed the award limits placed on the Block Grant. Supporting documentation is required for all expenses.  The 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 resulting from a COVID19 diagnosis that are not covered by insurance, extended physical therapy, prescriptions and/or PPE equipment, costs associated with quarantine facilities, child and elder expenses related to COVID19, travel costs to and from medical visits, medical testing, etc.  NON-COVID expenses will not be considered.  

Currently, there are two pathways to apply for the HEERF III Special Needs Grant.  First, the Special Needs Grants serve 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 needs financial assistance with a wide range of expenses.  However, as part of the review process, staff are trained to flag the requests where the circumstances are tied back to, or due to, 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 provide sufficient documentation to support their request.

 

Application Procedure for the Special Needs Grant:  SMU is no longer accepting applications for 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 case-by-case.

 

NOTE:  The total award amount from a Special Needs Grant if combined with a Block I or Block II Grant cannot exceed the $6400 per student maximum limit.

 

HEERF III Reporting (Student Portion)

Southern Methodist University acknowledges and accepts the terms of the Certification and Agreement, signed and submitted on April 15, 2020, to provide emergency grants to students with funds received through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) as authorized by the American Rescue Plan

 SMU received a HEERF III allocation of $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).

 Cumulative distribution of HEERF III funds to students (Based on funds drawn as of March 31, 2022)

 

HEERF III Initiative

Amount Spent

Number of Recipients

HEERF III Block I Grants:

$4,899,000

1714

HEERF III Special Needs:

$23,994

Less than 10

HEERF III Block II Grants:

$707,000

299

 

Total HEERF III - Student Portion

$5,629,994

 

Based on funds drawn as of March 31, 2022

 

 

 

Detailed Spending by Quarter:

First Quarter 2022  (January 1, 2022 – March 31, 2022)

  • Total Q1 2022 Spending:   $707,000
    • Block II Grant Initiative - $707,000          
      • Using the Block II selection criteria defined above, it was determined that 500 students potentially qualified for HEERF III, block II funds. 
      • As of March 31, 2022, SMU had distributed a Block II Grant  to  299 students by electronic ACH. 

 

Fourth Quarter 2021  Spending - (October 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021)

  • Total Q4 Spending:  $4,910,100
    • Block I Grant Initiatives - $4,899,000 
      • Using the Block I selection criteria described above, it was determined that 1751 students potentially qualified for HEERF III funds. 
      • As of December 31, 2021, SMU had distributed $4,899,000 in emergency grants to a total of 1,714 students by electronic ACH or paper check  
    • Special Needs Grant - $11,100
      • SMU has distributed a combined total of $11,100 in Special Needs Grants to less than ten students.
      • Eligibility determined case by case through the Special Needs application process described above.

 

Third Quarter 2021  Spending (July 1, 2021 -  September 30, 2021)

  • Total Q3 2021 Spending:   $12,894
    •  Special Needs Grant - $12,894 
      •  Eligibility determined case by case through the Special Needs application process described above.
      • As of Sept. 30, 2021,  SMU had distributed a combined total of $12,894 in Special Needs Grants to less than ten students.

 

HEERF III Institutional Portion Reporting 

First Quarter 2022 Institutional Report  (January 1, 2022 - March 31, 2022)  

Fourth Quarter 2021 Institutional Report (October 1, 2021-December 31, 2021)

Third Quarter 2021 Institutional Report (July 1, 2021 - September 30, 2021) 

Third Quarter 2021 Institutional Report Revised 1/7/22 

Third Quarter revisions made to the following fields:

  • Changed the Total Amount of Funds Awarded to equal the cumulative amount of HEERF I, II, and III Institutional Funds.
  • Added explanations for all categories regardless of amount claimed
  • Updated the “Date of Report” field to reflect the date the revised report was posted
  • Corrected the file naming convention

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.