HEERF I - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES)

SMU Distributes $2.3 million in CARES Act/ Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF I) to Students.

Direct payments will support low-income undergraduate and graduate students

SMU is directing $2.3 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support nearly 1700 undergraduate and graduate students with high financial needs. This money from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) will help eligible students facing significant financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-time payments of either $1,500 or $1,000 will go to the approximately 15 percent of SMU students who have the greatest demonstrated financial need in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The larger grants will go to those students eligible for the federal Pell Grant or with an equivalent Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

These funds are intended to help SMU’s most financially vulnerable students with expenses associated with disruptions from the pandemic, including such factors as loss of employment, travel restrictions and unexpected changes in housing.

Students eligible for the HEERF funds will receive emails from both SMU and Chase Bank with instructions for using Chase QuickPay® to receive funds. All eligible students with a U.S. bank account can access money through Chase QuickPay® regardless of which bank they use. 

Eligible students must be currently enrolled at SMU as of April 30, 2020, and must have received need-based aid for the Spring 2020 term.  This aid could include need-based grants, federal loans or earnings from the federal or state college work study program. 

According to federal guidelines, most non-U.S. citizens and students in degree programs that were being delivered online before the pandemic (e.g., MSDS, Cybersecurity, and Online MBA) are not eligible for these grants.

SMU recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating a financial burden for the families of many students who do not necessarily qualify for federal aid.  SMU is working closely with individual students and families to ensure they can register for classes and carry through with their plans to return to SMU in the fall.  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.

The Office of Financial Aid has provided answers to FAQs about the CARES-HEERF payments here.  Students with further questions about need-based financial aid should contact the Division of Enrollment Services at enrol_serv@smu.edu or 214-768-3417.

Cares Act Reporting (Student Grant Portion Final Report)

  1. On April 15th, 2020 the University signed and submitted the Certification and Agreement for section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students and the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.
  2. Southern Methodist University has received a total of $4,598,259 in funds from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
  3. As of July 6, 2020, Southern Methodist University has distributed $2,299,130, half of the entire amount of funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, as emergency grants to undergraduate and graduate students of the University.
  4. As of April 30, 2020, Southern Methodist University had 1654 students eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and therefore eligible to receive Student Emergency Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  5. As of October 16th, 2020, a total of 1,654 students had received Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.
  6. Following the guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Acts are distributed to SMU students with the greatest demonstrated financial need and potential for financial hardship due to the ongoing pandemic.   To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:
    • enrolled as of April 30th for the Spring 2020 term.
    • eligible to receive Federal Title IV funding as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    • received Federal Title IV grants or loans for the Spring 2020 term.
    • enrolled in a campus-based academic program (Online programs are not eligible).
    • The amount awarded is based on the FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  Eligible students with an official EFC up to $5,576 received $1,500.  Eligible students with an official EFC between $5,577 and $10,000 received $1,000.
  7. On April 30th, 2020, notification was sent to the eligible students describing how the funds would be distributed along with instructions describing how to obtain the funds.

The University created a website answering questions regarding the distribution of the CARES Act funds.

Copies of the communications to eligible students can be provided upon request to the Secretary of the United States Department of Education.

Download: HEERF I CARES Act Reporting Institutional Portion