Updated as of March 5, 2021.

The 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19.  One section of the CRRSAA established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and sent money to schools to use for emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund?

Students who meet basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid and who have exceptional financial need can be considered for these funds. The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) will use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data to determine your eligibility. If you are eligible to file a FAFSA but have not yet filed for 2020-21 and need assistance, please file a FAFSA at studentaid.gov.

Under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, these funds can be awarded to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students enrolled at the UW. Students enrolled through Continuum College fee-based degree programs are eligible for consideration too.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education does not allow these funds to be used for international students or undocumented students.  If you are a student from one of these groups, there are other types of emergency aid from the UW available. Please see the questions below for details on applying for these emergency aid programs.

What is a UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund standard grant?

The HEERF directed universities to prioritize students with exceptional financial need.  The UW wants to provide economic relief quickly to students who may have experienced additional expenses and/or a loss of income due to COVID-19.  Therefore, we have used the HEERF emergency aid funds to provide a standard relief grant of $1,300 based on the family income reported on your FAFSA.

The specific criteria for the UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund standard grant is as follows—

  • Undergraduate or graduate student in a degree program, enrolled at least half time for winter quarter 2021
  • Meet basic eligibility requirements for federal aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965
  • A  2020-21 FAFSA on record with the UW’s Office of Student Financial Aid
  • Family income in the low- to low-middle income levels based on FAFSA information.

When will Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds be available?

Funds were disbursed starting March 3, 2021 and we continue to make awards to students. Recipients are notified via a message to their UW email account if awarded HEERF relief funds.

How can I use the UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund standard grant?

These funds are meant to help students pay expenses for technology, health care, child care, course materials, rent, food moving or other expenses incurred this quarter. If you have yet to experience financial stress due to COVID-19, these funds can help with unanticipated expenses or income loss that may occur throughout the quarter and into future quarters.

Some students who file individual requests for assistance may also receive a grant from the UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund as we continue to provide assistance to students who encounter new financial challenges from the pandemic.

Why didn’t I receive a UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund standard grant?

Students who are not meet basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid programs or do not demonstrate exceptional financial need are not eligible for federal HEERF grants. However, the UW may be able to help you with emergency aid from other institutional or private donations. These funds are limited, but we encourage you to apply. We will review your request and determine if we can offer you assistance.

If you are eligible for federal aid, but did not receive the UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund standard grant described above, you can notify our office for a review of your situation by submitting a request for emergency aid.  This application usually takes less than five minutes to complete.

When we award a standard grant, we must make some assumptions about students’ needs in order to award the funds quickly.  Sometimes these broad assumptions miss students that may have great financial need as well. We recognize that you may have need even if you don’t meet the standard grant criteria listed above. We know that many families’ income is in flux or there may be additional expenses associated due to the pandemic. We need to hear from you in order to determine if we can offer you funds too. Please file the emergency aid request to help with your immediate needs and consider filing a request for change in income or expenses for other financial aid funds for longer term and future needs. You can find more information about changing your financial aid information here.

What emergency relief funds are available for undocumented students?

While the U.S. Department of Education does not allow HEERF funding to provide grants to undocumented students, the UW will award grants to undocumented students who meet the same criteria for eligibility and greatest financial need as those students receiving a UW Federal Emergency Relief Fund grant. These grants are funded by non-federal sources.  We anticipate we will start to award these funds in mid to late March to undocumented students.

The information on your Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) form was used to establish your eligibility. If you have not filed the WASFA form for 2020-21 and you need assistance, please apply at https://readysetgrad.wa.gov/wasfa.

If you have higher COVID-19 expenses than the standard relief grant amount, you can submit a request for emergency aid.

What emergency relief funds are available for international students?

Unfortunately, under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, international students are not eligible for the federal HEERF funds. International students who need emergency aid assistance are encouraged to file an emergency aid application. Please note that these funds are limited and generally awarded to help with living expenses.

You may also want to review the resources page on the International Student Services website.

 

If you have any questions that are not addressed above, please contact our office.