Emergency Relief Funds

Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEERF) Funds (aka CARES)

Updated June 30, 2021

HEERF is to assist students with emergency grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

The amount of HEERF funding each college/university receives varies and is primarily based on the number of high-need students enrolled. While specific award amounts differ between institutions, priority is given to student populations who have the highest financial need through the federal financial aid application process.

In most cases, HEERF award amounts at EWU range from $250 to $1,250. Funds are issued directly to the student, via direct deposit or mailed check, and may be used at the student’s discretion on costs such as tuition, educational materials, technology, housing, food, transportation, health/mental care and/or child care. Funds are issued to the student, regardless of their EWU balance due.

HEERF I: Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES)

March 2020, Congress passed the first of three economic relief packages related to the COVID-19 pandemic. HEERF I funds were issued to eligible EWU students spring, summer and fall 2020.

HEERF II: Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA)

December 2020, Congress passed additional emergency aid to support college students. HEERF II funds were issued to eligible EWU students winter/spring 2021.

Coming Soon – HEERF III: American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

March 2021, Congress passed additional emergency aid to support college students. Details are pending.

Frequently Asked Questions

HEERF Federal Disclosures

  • Eastern Washington University signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement for HEERF funding and will use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. HEERF II funds were automatically issued to schools based on the original HEERF agreement.
  • From HEERF, EWU received $4,993,150 for distribution to students and $4,993,150 for institutional funding. From HEERF II, EWU received an additional $4,993,150 for distribution to students and $11,568,163 for institutional funding.
  • The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to date is $9,839,659.
  • The estimated number of EWU students eligible to participate in programs under section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive HEERF Grants under section 18004(a)(1) of the Cares Act is more than 9,000 per school year.
  • To date, the total number of EWU students who have received HEERF Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 13,184. For details on the usage of institutional funds:
  • The methods used by EWU to determine which students receive HEERF Grants and how much they receive is based on the following criteria:
    • Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
    • U.S. citizens or permanent residents
    • Fully admitted, degree-seeking undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate
    • Enrolled at least half-time
    • Title IV eligible FAFSA filers
    • Maintaining satisfactory academic progress

To distribute funds quickly, a standard grant was awarded to those students with the greatest financial need under the following tiers.

Tier #1: Automatic Grants

Automatic cash payments to eligible enrolled EWU students. Award amounts range from $250 to $1,250 and vary based on EFC.

Tier #2: Grants by Application

Cash payments to eligible enrolled EWU students who submit an application. Award amounts range from $250 to $2,000.

Tier #3: Professional Judgment

Students/families with a change in income due to the pandemic, and in need of a more thorough review of their financial aid situation, should contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss a financial aid appeal. Other sources of aid will be considered in addition to HEERF (CARES) funding.

Disbursement of Awarded Funds

HEERF (CARES) grant awardees who have signed up for direct deposit will have funds disbursed directly to their bank accounts. All other students will have a check sent to the current mailing address listed on their EagleNET account. The full award amount will be disbursed to students regardless of whether they owe any money to the University. However, those who owe an EWU balance are encouraged to utilize the HEERF (CARES) aid to resolve their EWU debt.


For questions about your eligibility for the HEERF (CARES) Emergency Grants, call the Financial Aid Office at 509.359.2314 or email finaid@ewu.edu.

HEERF (CARES) Emergency Grants FAQ

Enrolled students who meet the eligibility criteria for federal financial aid and who have the greatest financial need can be considered for these funds. The EWU Financial Aid Office uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data to determine your eligibility. If you are eligible to file a FAFSA but have not yet filed for 2020-21 and need assistance, complete the FAFSA at studentaid.gov. Eligible students, enrolled at least half time, include undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate students.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. This law created the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to provide funds to institutions for emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those selected for an award, automatic or by application, are notified by email. The approved amount will be on your EWU student account and under the financial aid award tab in EagleNET. Funds usually show in bank accounts or your mailbox about a week later.

For those not automatically awarded HEERF (CARES) Emergency funds, or those in need of additional support due to extenuating circumstances related to COVID-19, should consult with the Financial Aid Office for an application.

EWU HEERF (CARES) Emergency aid is limited and, per direction by the U.S, Department of Education, prioritized to the most needy students. FAFSA determined EFC was used by EWU to identify those most needy.

Additionally, under U.S. Department of Education’s rules for the program, students who are not eligible for federal financial aid programs are not eligible for federal HEERF (CARES) grants. However, funds from the state of Washington may be available to those ineligible to file a FAFSA (see FAQ below for details).

If you are eligible for federal aid, but did not receive the automatic EWU HEERF (CARES) Emergency grant and have been impacted by the pandemic, contact the EWU Financial Aid Office for additional consideration.

Students who are not eligible to file a federal financial aid application (FAFSA), but who are eligible to file a Washington Application for Student Financial Aid (WASFA) may receive funding from the state of Washington. Funding is limited and awarded to needy students based on your WASFA data. Automatic awards will be issued to those eligible spring 2021.

International students who are not fully funded by their home country, and impacted by the pandemic, may apply for an EWU Emergency Fund award. In most cases, approved awards are limited to $300 for one-time, emergency expenses.

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Yes. If you are eligible for the Emergency Grant, you will receive the money even if you have a current balance with the university.

Priority is given to full-time students. Undergraduate students are normally considered full-time at 12 credits. Graduate students are considered full-time if they are currently enrolled in 8 or more credits.

Money will be paid directly to you through direct deposit or via a check mailed to the current mailing address on your student account.

The grant can be used for unanticipated expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and university shut-down. Some examples include food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare.

We understand that many students and families are experiencing extreme financial distress right now. The CARES Emergency Grants are meant to supplement your financial needs. We know that for many of you, the grants are not enough.

If you continue to experience financial distress, please reach out to the EWU Financial Aid Office at 509.359.2314 or the EWU Student Care Team at 509.359.7924 for consideration for additional resources.

For questions about your eligibility for the CARES Emergency Grants, you can call the Financial Aid Office at 509.359.2314 or email finaid@ewu.edu.

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