Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

This page was last updated on 8/18/2021.

The hardships presented by the coronavirus pandemic continue to be felt deeply by our students and their families. DU has received a third round of funding as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) to directly support students who are facing financial challenges due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The disbursement from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the ARP Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is designed to prioritize students with exceptional financial need.

Eligibility Requirements

Federal legislation requires us to prioritize students with exceptional financial need. The funds are meant to help students cover expenses related to attending the University of Denver (e.g., tuition, housing, meals, health insurance, or transportation costs) or emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus, including health care and mental health care, or child care.

To be eligible for HEERF III funding, students must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program for the 2021 fall term. Federal Title IV eligibility is not a requirement to receive the funds, which means DACA and undocumented students, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, and international students are eligible.

Automatic distribution:

In mid-August, DU distributed about 40% of HEERF III funding directly to returning students enrolled in classes for the 2021 fall term. Because federal legislation requires DU to prioritize students with exceptional need, not all students received these funds. $2.5 million was distributed to a total of 1,700 students—54% of recipients were undergraduate students and 46% were undergraduates. Each eligible student was notified of payment on August 18th and received $1,500. 

Please note that HEERF funds are not applied to any outstanding balance you may have with DU; they're refunded directly to you to help offset your expenses. Once you receive the refund, you can make a payment to your DU bill, if you wish.  

Remaining HEERF III funds:

DU is currently developing a plan to distribute the remaining portion of HEERF III funds. This webpage will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Additional Funding Resources

If you aren't eligible for HEERF or you have expenses that exceed what the fund covered, please consider pursuing these other DU resources.

  • Student Assistance Fund: The Student Assistance Fund provides limited financial assistance to currently enrolled DU students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship related to an unexpected situation. More information is available from Student Outreach & Support.
  • Sturm College of Law Emergency Relief Fund: Grants of up to $1,000 are available to students in the Sturm College of Law who are experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19. More information and a link to the application is available on the law website.
  • Financial Aid Appeal: Undergraduate students and their families who have experienced a pay reduction or job loss may request additional assistance through the appeal process.
  • Emergency Loans: Short-term emergency loans are available to students who are experiencing temporary financial hardship. More information is available from the Bursar’s Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I wasn't offered HEERF funding. Why?

    We received limited funding from the U.S. Department of Education for HEERF III, and federal guidance requires institutions to award funds to students with exceptional financial need, which is determined by your financial aid application.

    For the automatic distribution in August, we used a number of factors to determine eligibility. For undergraduates, we used primarily the expected family contribution. For graduate students, we used the expected family contribution (as determined by the FAFSA), an enrollment level greater than 8 credits, and loan borrowing.

  • Will HEERF funding affect my financial aid?

    No. Since HEERF is not considered "financial aid," it will not impact your current aid eligibility.

  • Are HEERF funds taxable?

    No. According to the information currently available, the IRS does not consider HEERF funds to be taxable income.

    While not taxable, HEERF funds that are used to pay any portion of a student’s balance will be reported on the 2021 1098T form as payment toward qualified tuition and fees (Box 1). For information regarding 1098T tax reporting, please contact the Bursar’s Office at 303-871-4944 or bursar@du.edu.

  • Will there be additional higher education relief funding in the future?

    The University is currently making plans to distribute the remaining $3.6 million in HEERF III funding to eligible students. More information will be available on this page as details are finalized.

    In the meantime, we encourage all current students who haven't already applied for financial aid for the 2021-22 academic year to do so as soon as possible.