What is the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III? 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) established and funded the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) in March, 2020. Since then, two additional acts were passed by Congress providing additional emergency relief funding for higher education. All three of the acts provided grants for both institutional costs related to the pandemic and for direct pass-through aid to students. HEERF III is the funding provided by the American Rescue Plan act (ARP). A summary of the three acts follows:

HEERF I      Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) 3/27/2020
HEERF II     Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) 12/27/2020
HEERF III    American Rescue Plan (ARP) 3/11/2021 

What are the differences between HEERF I, II, and III student awards?

CARES/HEERF I funding was defined as specific to students’ expenses resulting from the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 emergency.  

Expenses applicable for HEERF II funding were defined as:

  • Any component of the student’s cost of attendance (COA), or
  • Emergency costs that arise due to Coronavirus, such as but not limited to tuition, food, housing, healthcare, mental healthcare, or child care.
  • Satisfaction of student’s account balance if student provides consent.

Eligible expenses are essentially the same in HEERF III as HEERF II.

Also, with HEERF II, institutions were required to prioritize students with exceptional need and authorized students exclusively enrolled in distance education (WPOnline) to receive awards.

HEERF II required students to be matriculated, whereas HEERF III does not.

HEERF III awards do not require Title IV eligibility, and eligibility was expanded to include international, undocumented, and DACA. Additionally, students who were enrolled in any term between spring 2020 and spring 2021 are eligible, even if they are not currently enrolled. HEERF III continues to require prioritization of “exceptional need” students.

The total funds available to WPUNJ students from the three acts was/is:

  • HEERF I:   $4,881,678 (Eligible students: 7,200)
  • HEERF II:   $4,884,678 (Eligible students: 7,000)
  • HEERF III: $14,610,467 (Eligible students: 14,000)

How do I request a HEERF III award?

Applicants for the HEERF III awards must complete an online application form. Eligible students will receive a notification with a link to the application form. 

Applicants must identify the type and amount of expenses relevant to this funding source in the application. If no expenses are indicated, no award will be made.

Which Students are eligible to receive the HEERF III awards?

To be eligible for a HEERF III award, students must be enrolled in the spring 2021 semester, or must have been enrolled in another semester from spring 2020 through spring 2021.

Under HEERF III, eligibility includes:

  • Both on-campus students and WP Online students
  • Full time and part time students
  • International, undocumented, and DACA students

What is the deadline to file the application?

To be considered for this award, the application must be completed and submitted by 11:59pm, Friday, July 9, 2021.

How will I know if I’ve been approved for a HEERF III award? 

Notifications will go out during the week of July 12th letting all applicants know if they will be receiving an award.

If approved, when will I receive funding?

Recipients will receive their awards no later than Thursday, July 22, 2021.

Awards can be credited to your student account or paid to you through the normal student refund process. You must make this selection when you complete the application form.

What expenses qualify?

Students’ cost of attendance and emergency costs arising from the coronavirus pandemic are eligible expenses. Examples of these costs include:

  • Tuition and fees
  • On-campus room and board
  • Other housing and food costs
  • Technology expenses to support remote learning (hardware/software)
  • Internet service costs necessary to support remote learning
  • Purchase of additional educational materials, including books, tutoring or course materials to improve experience and performance of remote coursework
  • Unexpected healthcare costs, including mental healthcare, resulting from circumstances of the pandemic
  • Unexpected childcare expenses due to circumstances of the pandemic
  • Past due account balance, if consented to by student

How much funding can I receive? 

The total pool of funds to be awarded is $14,610,467. The estimated individual award range is between $300 and $1,800 per student depending on category*, however these amounts will increase if the number of students who apply is less than the number who are eligible (as was the case with the CARES and HEERF II awards). Individual award amounts will depend on several factors:

  • How many students apply
  • Each applicant’s category* of calculated award
  • The amount of actual expenses indicated on the application form:

If the total actual expense you show on your application form is less than the calculated award, your award will be limited to your actual expense. If you do not list any actual expense on your application, you will not receive any award.

*There are eight categories of award amounts:

  • Full time + exceptional need
  • Full time + non-exceptional need
  • Full time + On-campus student
  • Full time + WPOnline student
  • Part time + exceptional need
  • Part time + non-exceptional need
  • Part time + On-campus student
  • Part time + WPOnline student

Do I have to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive HEERF III funds?


However, HEERF III requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, and WPUNJ fulfills this requirement by using the financial aid criteria that determines federal Pell grant eligibility. Such criteria can only be obtained from the FAFSA. (This is an acceptable methodology for determination of “exceptional need” under the ARP.) Therefore, only students who have a fully completed FAFSA on file will be able to receive the higher award amount given to “exceptional need” students.

If I have changes to make to my application after I already submitted it, how do I make those changes?

You can make changes to your application up to 11:59pm, Friday, July 9th. To access your form, click here.

Can I appeal the decision outcome?

No, there is no appeal process regarding the decision or the grant amount.

My family had a loss of income, what can I do?

If you are currently enrolled, and your family has experienced a loss of full time wages for more than ten weeks, we encourage you to appeal for a review of your special circumstances – this process is called Special Conditions. With this process, your Financial Aid Counselor will be able to review documentation related to unemployment or other factors that led to a change in the household income and with this information, make changes to your FAFSA to reflect the current income. This important process may qualify you to receive additional funding for the 2021-2022 aid year. The link to the Special Conditions form is: https://www.wpunj.edu/financial-aid/assets/21-22%20SPCON.pdf 

Submit the form and all supporting documentation to finaid@wpunj.edu .