American Rescue Plan Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III)

NIU has received $21 million in additional federal relief funding to help our students, including those who are enrolled only in distance education programs.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has expanded its eligibility criteria to include our undocumented and international students.

This funding is part of the American Rescue Plan Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III) and is focused on helping students cover the cost of attending NIU and emergency costs due to the coronavirus. Examples of such costs are tuition, food, housing, health care, mental health care and child care.

ARPA grants of $1,200, $800 or $500 are being issued to students who meet the exceptional financial need criteria. The award amount will be based on an expected family contribution (EFC) tiered range where students who have the most exceptional financial need are prioritized to receive the largest award amounts.

  • Students eligible for the automatic grant were notified July 21 via their NIU email.
  • Qualified students were informed that they would receive funds and were encouraged to log in to their MyNIU account to designate how they want their funds distributed. Recipients also were encouraged to enroll in or update their direct deposit information or their addresses in MyNIU.
  • Disbursement of the grants begins July 29.
  • Students who did not receive emails or have grants posted to their accounts were not eligible to receive the grants.
  • Receiving ARPA:HEERF III funds will not affect other financial aid. However, those funds might be considered taxable income: Students should consult tax preparers for guidance.

NIU also is adding money to the Student Emergency Fund (SEF).

All students, regardless of ARPA:HEERF III grant eligibility, can apply for emergency assistance through SEF beginning Sept. 15. Funding is limited.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who qualifies for HEERF III automatic grants?

Undergraduate, graduate and law school students who are enrolled at least half time for the Spring 2021 term might qualify. NIU will use federal criteria to determine eligibility and will issue $1,200, $800, or $500 grants to students who have the exceptional need, based on income information provided in 2021 aid year. Grants will be issued automatically; students will not need to apply for the funding. Eligible students will receive an email notification from the Financial Aid Office.

Are undocumented or international students eligible?

Yes. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students are eligible. International students also can receive HEERF funds. However, the U.S. Department of Education encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students, especially undergraduates.

How much are the grants?

Eligible students will receive either $1,200, $800 or $500, based on individual financial need.

Am I restricted in how I use my grant?

Yes. The money is yours to use for any cost of attending NIU or emergency costs caused by COVID-19, such as tuition, food, housing, health care, mental health care or child care.

Students who have NIU account balances with eligible charges can authorize the university to apply their grants directly to those balances. The deadline for providing consent is Tuesday, July 27. You can provide consent by visiting the MyNIU Student System and clicking on the “Tasks” tile. Select the optional “To Do” task called “Special Financial Aid Authorization.”

Can I apply my money to my NIU account balance?

Yes. Students who have NIU account balances with eligible charges (excluding balances resulting from late fees, fines, etc.) can authorize the university to apply their grants directly to eligible charges in the 2020-2021 academic year (Fall 2020, Spring 2021 and Summer 2021). The deadline for providing consent is Tuesday, July 27. You can provide consent by visiting the MyNIU Student System and clicking on the “Tasks” tile. Select the optional “To Do” task called “Special Financial Aid Authorization.”

If we do not have your consent by that time, you always can make payments toward your NIU account balance with your ARPA:HEERF III dollars if you want.

What criteria did NIU use to determine HEERF III automatic grant eligibility?

Our criteria included:

  • Undergraduate, graduate and law students enrolled at least half time for the spring 2021 semester.
  • Students who are not full-time NIU employees.
  • Includes students exclusively enrolled in distance education, citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers and similar undocumented students.
  • International students are also eligible after domestic students have been prioritized.
  • Students who demonstrate exceptional financial need, based on Pell or MAP eligibility, or expected family contribution (EFC).
If I already provided directions on applying my $100 vaccine incentive either to my NIU account or my personal bank account, do I still need to tell NIU where to deposit my HEERF III grant?

Yes. The deadline for providing consent to apply your HEERF III grant to your NIU account is 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 27. You can provide consent by visiting the MyNIU Student System and clicking on the “Tasks” tile. Select the optional “To Do” task called “Special Financial Aid Authorization.”

If you do not provide consent by 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, your grant will be provided as a refund to you.

Reports

Still Need Help?

For general concerns or questions, contact the Center for Student Assistance at studentassistance@niu.edu or 815-753-8300.

For technological concerns contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@niu.edu or or 815-753-8100

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