Emergency Relief Funds

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

Updated Oct. 8, 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 – $2000. Funds are issued to help with a variety of needs including tuition, educational materials, technology, housing, food, transportation, health/mental care and child care. Funds may be issued directly to the student, or pay directly toward EWU charges with the student’s approval.

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.

HEERF III: American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

March 2021, Congress passed additional emergency aid to support college students. HEERF III funds were issued to students beginning summer 2021 and will continue through the 2021-22 school year.

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. From HEERF III, EWU received an additional $14,668,689 for distribution to students and $14,478,664 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 $9,877,593.84.
  • 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 13,190. 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 $2,000 and vary based on EFC.

Tier #2: Grants by Application

Funds to eligible EWU students who submit an application. Award amount varies based on student circumstances and need.

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 receiving funds directly will have funds disbursed to their bank accounts or checks sent to the current mailing address. Students opting for HEERF (CARES) funds to assist with EWU charges will have funds directly applied to their outstanding balance due.


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 will receive priority consideration for these funds. The EWU Financial Aid Office uses the FAFSA or WASFA data to determine your eligibility. If you are eligible to file a FAFSA or WASFA but have not yet filed for 2021-22 and need assistance, complete the FAFSA at studentaid.gov or the WASFA at https://wsac.wa.gov/wasfa. 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.

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.

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.

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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