Published June 11, 2020
On March 27, Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Of the $2 trillion stimulus package, about $14 billion was allocated to institutions of higher education for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The most significant portion of that funding allocation provides that $12.56 billion be distributed to institutions using a formula based on student enrollment.
UB has received $23.9 million from the federal stimulus package, of which $11.9 million will be allocated as emergency financial aid grants/assistance for both undergraduate and graduate/professional students who have incurred educational expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amount of funding allocated to colleges and universities is based on criteria established by the Department of Education, including total student enrollment, all students eligible for Title IV aid and enrollment of low-income students who qualify for and receive Pell Grants.
With campus operations disrupted over the past several months, students may have incurred unexpected expenses, such as costs for housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation, and health or dependent care. Colleges and universities must use at least 50% of HEERF Act funding to provide emergency financial aid assistance/grants to undergraduate and graduate students who are facing these types of financial challenges.
Students who meet federal financial aid requirements are able to receive funding. Additional requirements include, but are not limited to:
To ensure students with the greatest need have access to this financial support, UB has automatically allocated funds to students through their financial aid package in the HUB student center, where they have the option to accept, reduce or decline the funding. If students reduce or decline these funds, they will be allocated to other students in need. Students who did not automatically receive funds can apply for funding; applicants are asked to provide documentation of the expenses they have incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to HEERF funding, UB is supporting students who are faced with financial hardship by providing assistance through more than 16 emergency funds. The Student Life Emergency Funds page provides instructions on applying for these various funds that each have a unique application and set of criteria, and students may apply to a fund that best meets their need. Faculty and staff who wish to support emergency funds for students can donate online.
Student Accounts has also been working over the past several months to provide refunds to students for some fees for services that were discontinued or curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university has issued more than $20 million in refunds to students for unused fees, including course fees (e.g., lab fees), housing, dining, parking and transportation, athletics and student activity fees.
More information about HEERF funding can be found on UB’s Financial Aid website, and students can contact UB’s Financial Aid Office. Financial aid advisers are available to help students navigate through their unique situations.
Due to COVID-19, my family and I were impacted financially. Everyone in my household was out of work due to COVID, which left me and my family financially unstable for these few months. I currently am employed, but all of my money goes to the house to help feed my family. The CARES Act will help me with food and transportation. Thank you.