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FAQs for American Rescue Plan’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III

What is the latest round of federal student aid funding that Brown is disbursing?

As Provost Locke shared in his letter to the Brown community on July 7, a new tranche of $6.29 million in funding comes to Brown University from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plans’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III). Brown will distribute HEERF III funds to eligible undergraduate, graduate and medical students prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

What is the American Rescue Plan Act?

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is a federal bill passed by the 117th Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, to support higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ARP Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) provides approximately $36.9 billion additional funding to colleges and universities previously provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

Who is eligible to receive HEERF III relief funding and how will eligible students be notified?

As part of the University’s commitment to assist those in the community with the highest financial need, and in line with statutory requirements, a group of students, faculty and staff convened in February 2021 to develop the most equitable plan for distributing federal relief funds. This group recommended the distribution of funds to those with the highest assessed financial need, with student financial aid profiles serving as a guide. This group’s advice directed the distribution of $5.4 million in relief funds in Spring 2021. A group of similar inclusive campus representation convened again to advise on the distribution of HEERF III funds.

Undergraduate and medical students receiving Brown need-based scholarships for the 2021-2022 academic year, as well as master’s degree students who have completed a 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with an expected family contribution (EFC) below the cost of attendance (COA), are eligible to receive funding.

Importantly, under HEERF III, students eligibile for funding include U.S. citizens and permanent residents, undocumented and international students, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, and other DREAMers. 

All students who are eligible for funding receive an email notice directly from Student Financial Services. 

I did not receive a notice of funding; why am I not eligible?

Federal law requires that the University prioritize grants to students with exceptional financial need. Accordingly, the University based distributions on student financial aid profiles. This funding model was developed by a group of students, faculty and staff who explored the most equitable models, and aligns with Brown’s overall approach to provide the most financial assistance to those with the greatest financial need.

How much funding will each eligible student receive?

Awards for undergraduates will range from an award of $3,000 for students with a $0 parent contribution to an award of $750 — with all award determinations based on eligible financial need for the 2021-2022 academic year and enrollment status. Awards of $2,000 will be granted to eligible medical school students receiving Brown need-based scholarships, and awards of $2,000 will be granted to master’s degree students who completed a 2021-2022 FAFSA with an EFC below the COA.

Why does my ARP HEERF III relief funding amount differ from the amount I received in Spring 2021 through the prior round of relief funding?

ARP HEERF III funding is based on financial aid eligibility for the 2021-2022 academic year.  Undergraduate students may experience a difference in the amount of funding they receive in this distribution compared to the funding provided in Spring 2021 (either a decrease or an increase) as a result of  changes in their financial need between the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years.   

Do I need to apply for relief funding?

Students do not need to apply for funding. Eligibility for the distribution of funds was determined based on the federal relief guidelines, as well as the consensus of a group of students, faculty and staff. Eligible students are notified directly by Student Financial Services.

How will eligible students receive their funds?

To expedite the processing of these funds to students, funds will be posted to student accounts and processed as eRefunds to U.S. checking or savings accounts. For students without access to a U.S. bank account, a paper check will be sent to students.

How do I set up eRefund?

Students can set up an eRefund account at Log in and select “Electronic Refunds” from the “My Profile Setup” menu; then select the green “Set up Account” button to begin the process. Please see Brown’s E-Bill & Payment Guide for additional instructions. For additional questions related to eRefund setup, please contact Student Financial Services at [email protected].

When will funds be distributed?

Funding to students will begin in late July 2021. As the University moves to distribute funds, eligible students receive a communication directly from Student Financial Services with further details. Students must have an eRefund profile in before the funds can be posted to the student account and processed as a refund. 

What are the tax implications of accepting these funds?

CARES Act, CRRSAA and ARP funds are being distributed to assist students with COVID-19 expense relief. As such, the amounts received by students will be excluded from gross income and excluded from tax reporting on 1099-MISC and 1098-T under IRS Section 139 “Qualified Disaster Relief Payments.” Students will not need to report these payments as income.

How do I decline this funding?

Students may determine how they use their funds within the allowable uses to include toward the cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to COVID-19, such as tuition, food, housing, health care or child care. If you meet eligibility requirements and do not wish to receive funding, then you may decline the funding by contacting Student Financial Services at [email protected].