CARES Act and HEERF funding for students

As part of the federal government’s coronavirus relief and economic stimulus packages, federal funding has been made available to institutions of higher education to be awarded directly to students as emergency financial aid grants. Earlham has applied for and received such funding. The first round of funding was known as the CARES Act or HEERF I. Earlham’s allocation of these funds was fully disbursed by Dec. 9, 2020. Earlham received a second round of funding, known as HEERF II, and a third round of funding, HEERF III. Funds cover costs incurred due to the COVID-19 national emergency starting on March 13, 2020.

Frequently asked questions

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) is federal funding to higher education to provide emergency financial support to individuals and organizations affected by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.

HEERF I was authorized through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Public Law 116-136, and authorizes $30.75 billion in support for education.

HEERF II was authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. In total, the CRRSAA authorizes $81.88 billion in support for education.

HEERF III was authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, signed into law on March 11, 2021. It authorizes $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of those funds, a portion must go directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants (HEERF-student share).

Eligibility for HEERF I and II is determined by:

  • Completion of the FAFSA
  • Making Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Enrollment in a degree-seeking program at Earlham
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident or other eligible non-citizen as determined by the FAFSA

Non-US citizens are not eligible for HEERF I or II funding per federal ruling. In addition, students only enrolled in online classes prior to March 13, 2020 were not eligible for the HEERF I round of funding.

For HEERF III, the US Department of Education states “all students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants, regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are eligible for Title IV.” Earlham College is prioritizing the neediest students who are currently enrolled at Earlham when awarding HEERF III funds.


Funding was to be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. This included costs such as food, housing, course materials, unanticipated travel, technology, health care, and child care expenses. In determining how much the disruption has cost them, students were instructed to subtract any cash refunds they already received from Earlham for prorated meals and housing credits.


Funding may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus.

If eligible, you will receive an email from [email protected] that includes a link to a Qualtrics survey for funding. Completed applications will be reviewed weekly until the funds are spent.

Please email Cathy Habschmidt and ask for a new link.

The funds will be allocated based on need as determined by your FAFSA, or for international students in HEERF III, equivalent documentation of your financial need.

On the Qualtrics survey you may select to have your funds direct deposited into your bank account via Paymerang or have a check mailed to the address you provide us. For HEERF II and III funds only (beginning Dec. 10, 2020), you may also request that the funds be applied to your student account balance.

Funds will be distributed on Thursdays for surveys returned by the previous Sunday until Earlham’s HEERF grant is fully expended, at which point no further payments will be made.

No, these are grant funds provided by the government for you.  You do not need to pay them back.

No, the funds will not affect your financial aid in any way.

Per the IRS: No. Emergency financial aid grants under HEERF are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant cannot be included in your gross income.

Please email Cathy Habschmidt if you have additional questions.

Next steps

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.