Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III

Application Period Has Ended

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I still apply for HEERF III funds?

Unfortunately, no. The application closed on October 24th, and all available funds have been disbursed.

What is HEERF III?

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) provides emergency funds to universities, including UMass Amherst, to directly support students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This federal funding is designed to prioritize students with the greatest need.  We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable disruptions and presents unparalleled challenges for many students and their families, and we are committed to delivering these funds as quickly as possible.

Who is eligible for the UMass Amherst HEERF III?

Grants may be awarded to graduate students who meet the following criteria:

  • Be a degree-seeking graduate student (both domestic and international)
  • Be enrolled for Fall 2021, including those on continuous enrollment (there is a requirement for minimum number of hours)

Please note that newly admitted international students who did not obtain visas to enter the US in the Fall 2021 semester and have never been on campus are not eligible.

In addition to these eligibility requirements, in order to receive the funds, you must have a US bank account or a US mailing address.

How will I know if I am qualified for HEERF III funds?

The Graduate School has contacted all students who meet the eligibility criteria and sent them an application form to fill out and return.

What do I have to do to apply for funds?

In order to receive a HEERF III award, applicants must fill out and return the application form that demonstrates financial need by the listed due date of 11:59pm on Sunday, October 24.   You will receive a confirmation email once you have submitted the form. Submitting an application does not guarantee you will receive an award.

If I am awarded funds, how will I receive these funds?

HEERF III funds will be disbursed through your student account. These funds will not be applied to any outstanding balance on your account, unless you request this through a separate process, otherwise you will receive the full award via direct deposit or check. 

  • To receive these funds by direct deposit, you must have a US bank account and have signed up for direct deposit through the UMass Excess Express program. If you have a US bank account and have not yet signed up for Excess Express, you can do so now through SPIRE, using the instructions found on this page. If you have already signed up, please check in SPIRE that your bank account information is correct. If you have Excess Express, you should receive these funds deposited to your U.S. bank account within 3-5 business days of the disbursement date.
  • To receive these funds by check, you must have a US mailing address listed as your permanent address in SPIRE. Checks will not be mailed to addresses outside the US. Please check your permanent address in SPIRE to make sure that it is correct. Mailing checks can take up to two weeks from the disbursement date.

If I am awarded funds, when can I expect to receive funds?

Funds should reach qualified applicants by December.

Will all applicants receive the same amount of aid?

No. Awards will vary according to a need ranking set by the Graduate Student Senate.

Will HEERF III funding affect my eligibility for financial aid?

No. HEERF III funding will not count towards Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA) and will not affect financial aid eligibility.

Will HEERF III funding be used to pay my outstanding bursar bill with the University?

No. Students will have the option to direct these funds towards paying your bursar bill, but they are not required to do so. 

What expenses qualify under HEERF III?

These funds must be used for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19, including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, childcare and bursar bills.

What if I don’t qualify for the HEERF III funds?

If you do not qualify for these Emergency Relief Funds, or if you have questions about other forms of federal financial aid, please contact UMass Financial Aid Services. See below for information about additional resources available to you.


What if I have additional questions?

Email graduateaid@umass.edu if you have additional questions that aren’t covered here.