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Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Western Carolina University students now have access to financial assistance through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), a new federal grant program that is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

These emergency grant funds will be available to eligible WCU students who are experiencing unexpected expenses or financial hardships that are directly related to changes in campus operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance will be available to undergraduate and graduate residential degree-seeking students who are eligible to be considered for financial aid. According to federal guidelines, funding will not be available to distance education students, non-degree seeking students, or international and undocumented students.

Students who were enrolled this spring or who graduated this spring should apply for funding by 11:29 pm on May 31, 2020.

See the reporting for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund here

Additional information is avalable in the frequently asked questions below: 

How can HEERF funds be used?

HEERF funds are specifically intended to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

Can I apply for HEERF to replace lost wages?

No. Lost wages do not constitute actual expenses. WCU cannot award HEERF funds to replace lost wages of the student or parent.

Am I eligible to apply for HEERF funding?

Eligible Students:

Students must have filed an application for financial aid (FAFSA) and met aid eligibility requirements

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate
  • Residential
  • Degree Seeking
  • Teacher Certification

Ineligible Students

Subject to further clarification or change

  • Distance – your program of study was 100% online prior to March 13, 2020 when the President of the United States declared a national emergency related to COVID-19
  • Non-Degree
  • Certificate
  • International
  • Non-Eligible Citizens

If I am an eligible student and I have filed an application for financial aid (FAFSA), how do I apply for HEERF funding?

You may access the HEERF application in myWCU. In 'My Financial Aid Status', select 'Scholarships' and 'Apply for or Accept Scholarships'. This application is for spring and summer 2020; another application will open in advance of the opening of fall 2020.

 

If I am an eligible student but have not filed an application for financial aid, must I file to be considered for HEERF funding?

Yes. Eligible students must have filed an application for financial aid.  You can apply for financial aid for 2019-2020 at fafsa.gov.

What are the eligibility requirements to receive financial aid?

To be eligible to receive federal student aid, you must:  

  • Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States.
  • Have a valid Social Security Number. (Students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau are exempt from this requirement.)
  • Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling. If you don’t, you may still be eligible for federal student aid if you were enrolled in college or career school prior to July 1, 2012. Additional information is available here
  • Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or teacher certificate.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
  • Register (or already be registered) with the Selective Service System, if you are a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering; more information is available here)
  • Not have a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans). If you have such a conviction, you must complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to determine if you are eligible for aid or partially eligible for aid.

WCU moved all courses online for spring and summer 2020; does that make me a distance student?

No. You are considered a distance student if your program of study was 100% online prior to March 13, 2020 when the President of the United States declared a national emergency related to COVID-19.

If I am an eligible student and have now completed an application for financial aid, can I apply for HEERF funding now?

Yes. As soon as WCU receives your application for financial aid and WCU determines that you meet aid eligibility requirements, the application for HEERF will be made available to you.

How will I know the HEERF application has been made available to me?

The application for spring and summer is available in the myWCU portal under the 'scholarships' link.

When will WCU start application reviews for HEERF?

Initial review will begin by May 1, and review will be ongoing thereafter.

How long will the application review process take?

The rate of application submissions will affect review processing time, but the preliminary goal is that the review of a complete, submitted application would occur within seven to ten business days.

How will I know if I have been approved for HEERF funds?

Approved HEERF funds will be posted in myWCU, My Financial Aid Status, View Financial Aid Awards and History.

How will HEERF funds be disbursed to me?

 HEERF funds will be deposited into your bank account if you have set up your direct deposit bank information in myWCU/Bill+Payment.  Please verify your bank information and make sure that it is correct.  If no bank information is supplied, the check will be mailed to your home address.  It may take one week to ten days longer to receive your refund if the refund is made by paper check and mailed

If I do not want to apply for financial aid, can I apply for emergency relief funding through WCU’s Student Emergency Fund?

Yes.  You may still apply for funding at Student Emergency Fund. Please note, funding is limited.

If I am an ineligible student, how can I apply for emergency relief funding?

You may apply for emergency relief funding at Student Emergency Fund. Please note, funding is limited.

Will I be able to request funds in the fall should I experience financial hardship related to COVID-19 this fall?

Yes, if funding is available. The current application targets requests pertaining to spring and summer 2020; another application will open in advance of the opening of fall 2020.

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