Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

NOTE: Additional information on the university's response to coronavirus is also available at our university COVID-19 resource page.


University Pavillion at night with McMicken reflected on glass


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Approval of $2.2 trillion in funding provided fast and direct economic aid to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately $14 billion was given to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF I).

Review appropriations and student awarding at the University of Cincinnati.

Marian Spencer Hall from Sigma Sigma Commons


The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) was authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, signed into law on December 27, 2020.

The CRRSAA authorizes $21.2 billion to higher education institutions to ensure learning continues for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Review appropriations and student awarding at the University of Cincinnati.

ERC and Library Square at night


The American Rescue Plan (ARP) became law with the signing of the bill on March 11, 2021, the one year anniversary of declaring a U.S. public health emergency due to coronavirus. Within the Plan's provisions was an outline for what will become the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III).

In response to the pandemic's significant hit to higher education, ARP authorizes $39.6 billion to higher education institutions to support college and university losses and assist students based on COVID-19 matters.

Review appropriations and student awarding at UC. Updates will be made as awards are made.

Quarterly Public Reporting

Grantee institutions receiving HEERF awards publicly post certain grant information on the institution’s website as part of the reporting requirements. Grantees will post a report for every calendar quarter with the initial report for expenditures through the end of the calendar quarter September 30, 2020. 


Other Aid-Related Federal COVID Relief Measures

In addition to awards made through HEERF, many students were aided by additional measures taken by the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Student Loan Emergency Relief Measures: Students and parent borrowers have payment forbearance, defaulted loan collection suspension, and 0% interest on U.S. Department of Education-held loans with the passing of the CARES Act and extensions made through executive action.
    • This relief brings needed assistance to some borrowers struggling financially.
    • Other borrowers are able to aid themselves financially by continuing loan payments to reduce their overall debt while gaining benefits of no interest accumulation.
  • SNAP Benefit Extension: Students enrolled at least half-time and having a -0- EFC or eligible for state or federal work-study were given eligibility to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the passing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • Emergency Broadband Benefit: Authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, this Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiative provides qualifying households (including Federal Pell Grant recipients) discounts on internet service and a computer or tablet purchase.