American Rescue Plan Act (HEERF III)
Federal Emergency Grant: Student Distribution
Congress, through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021 included a third round of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding (HEERF III) for institutions of higher education. Seattle Pacific University signed and returned to the Department of Education Seattle Pacific University’s Funding Certification and Agreement for the student portion of the university’s HEERF funds and has used the applicable amount of funds designated under ARP to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
Seattle Pacific University has received a HEERF III allocation to provide emergency financial aid grants to students. The grants can be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or childcare. Students must have exceptional need and students qualifying for the Federal Pell Grant will receive priority consideration. Unlike the previous HEERF awards, undocumented students and international students are eligible to receive ARP funding. This includes refugees, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, other DREAMers and similar undocumented students.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary way that SPU determined exceptional need, but there were options to document need that may not be captured through the FAFSA.
SPU received $3,822,170 in emergency grant funds through HEERF III to distribute to qualifying students.
As of September 30, 2021, $2,604,921.57 was allocated to eligible students.
The estimated total number of students eligible to receive an emergency grant was 3,437 students.
1,328 students received emergency grants.
The awarding methods, student amounts, and guidance is below:
1. Selected Student Recipients
a. Eligible Students
i. Undergraduates awarded Pell or Washington College Grant.
ii. All students with past due balances when reviewed on June 21, 2021.
i. Pell Grant or Washington College Grant eligible: $2,000.
ii. Past Due Students: Minimum of $1,000 or the amount they were past due at the time of selection up to $2,000.
i. Notification began Thursday, June 24th.
ii. Students received an authorization form to complete to choose to have the grant to pay their account or receive the funds directly. To be completed by July 6th. The authorization included a certification of information, acknowledgement of no guarantee of funds and balance owed SPU, and consequences of providing falsehoods. Students who did not respond were provided the funds directly.
a. In response to the required notification of the ability to appeal for a professional judgement, we received a number requests for appeals. Where we determined that the reason for the appeal met the requirements to receive HEERF-III funding, we provided HEERF-III awards to these students.
b. As part of the appeal, students were asked to explain their special circumstances especially related to emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or childcare.
c. Students could request specific amounts, but the amounts were not guaranteed. Students who received the pre-selected funds were also considered for appeals.
d. The SFS Committee reviewed and approved the appeals following the HEERF-III awarding guidelines.
e. Approximately twenty-five awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 were made based on appeals prior to September 30.
f. As part of the appeal process the students were sent an authorization form to complete to choose to have the grant to pay their account or receive the funds directly. The authorization included a certification of information, acknowledgement of no guarantee of funds and balance owed SPU, and consequences of providing falsehoods.
3. Distribution of Available Funding to Applicants
a. Awards were processed on July 6 and July 20 for the Selected Students. The Appeal funds were processed as the appeals were completed.
b. Amounts varied based on financial need and available funding.
i. Pell Grant and Washington College Grant recipients received $2,000 total.
ii. Students with past due balances received a minimum of $1,000, or the amount of their past due balance up to a maximum of $2,000.
iii. Students with appeals received between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on their circumstances.