CARES and HEERF II Grants
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Congress passed the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Aid in 2020. UNC Asheville was awarded $3.36 million for institutional support and student assistance in spring 2020. An additional amount of $5.43 million was awarded in January 2021 through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) II, which includes $1.67 million designated for student emergency aid through the Federal HEERF II Emergency Grants.
Grants are intended to help cover expenses related to the cost of attendance (i.e., food, housing and utilities, health insurance, including mental health care, transportation, or child care) or for emergency costs that arise due to the coronavirus.
Students who receive a HEERF II grant can choose to apply it to their existing account balance or receive the grant as a refund. Current guidelines indicate that the grants may only be applied towards the Spring 2021 semester. Students may complete the HEERF II Authorization Form to indicate their preference, which will be included in the grant notification email to eligible students.
A team of University leaders has developed a plan for how this money will be distributed to undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students. Priority was given to those students identified as having exceptional need based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Eligible students were notified of their grant in March 2021.
Students who were not eligible to receive funding in Phase 1 will be able to apply for funding in Phase 2, which will begin in April. Students will be notified by email when the application is open.
As of March 31, 2021, $1,679,747 of the CARES grant has been awarded to 2,299 students and $1,539,750 of the HEERF II grant has been awarded to 2,220 students. The total award as of March is $3,219,497. For more information, see the Reporting page.
Additional information is available in the frequently asked questions below:
How can HEERF II Grants be used?
The grants are specifically intended to provide emergency financial aid grants for educational expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology (computer purchase, internet), health care, child care or transportation.
If I choose to have the grant applied to my balance, can it be applied to prior term balances or to summer or fall 2021 charges?
You can only complete the HEERF II Authorization Form in OnePort to indicate that you would like to apply it to your current balance. Future guidance may produce additional clarification as to whether or not the grant can be applied to prior balances. If you would like to apply it towards future semesters, you will need to get the refund and then use the refund to pay for those charges.
Can I apply for the HEERF II Grant to replace lost wages?
No. Lost wages do not constitute actual expenses. UNC Asheville cannot award HEERF II funds to replace lost wages of the student or parent.
If I am a student but have not filed an application for financial aid, must I file to be considered for a HEERF II Emergency Grant?
Yes. Eligible students must have filed an application for financial aid. You can apply for financial aid at studentaid.gov.
Will this emergency grant affect any of my other financial aid?
No, the grant does not affect any aid already awarded to you.
Will all students be awarded the same?
No, the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education stipulates that universities prioritize students with exceptional need (i.e. students eligible for the Federal Pell grant). The amount of the emergency grant awarded will vary from student to student based on the results of the FAFSA and the specific expenses incurred by the student. There is no guarantee that all applications submitted during Phase 2 will receive funding.
How will I know if I have been approved for HEERF II Emergency Grants?
Approved grants will be posted to your student account on oneport.unca.edu. Students who received funding in Phase 1 were notified via email in March 2021.
How will the HEERF II Emergency Grant be distributed to me?
When eligible students are notified of their grant, they will be given the option to apply it to their existing balance or receive it as a refund by completing the HEERF II Authorization Form. Grants are not conditional on the disbursement option you choose. Students who do not complete the form will receive a refund. If you have already set up direct deposit in OnePort, refunds will be directly deposited into your bank account. Information about setting up direct deposit will be included in the grant notification email. Those who do not set up direct deposit will receive a mailed check to their home address. It may take one week to ten days longer to receive your refund if the refund is made by paper check and mailed.
If I have an existing balance, can I choose to get a refund?
Yes, you can still choose to receive a refund by completing the HEERF II Authorization Form.
When will UNC Asheville start application reviews for Phase 2 of the HEERF II Emergency Grants?
Initial review will begin in May 2021 and will be ongoing thereafter.
How long will the application review process take?
The rate of application submissions will affect review processing time, but the preliminary goal is that the review of a complete, submitted application would occur within 10 days.
If I do not want to or cannot apply for financial aid, can I apply for emergency relief funding through UNC Asheville’s Student Emergency Fund?
Yes. You may still apply for funding at Student Emergency Fund. Please note, funding is limited.