Can a Student On SAP Suspension Receive Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds?

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This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on April 5, 2021 to include guidance in the revised Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) II Frequently Asked Questions, as it relates to spending HEERF I student grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), HEERF II funds under the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA, Section 314 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), and HEERF III funds under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

HEERF II Funds and HEERF III Funds
Yes. According to Q&A 16 of the revised HEERF II Frequently Asked Questions, the school can award HEERF II funds to students who are not Title IV-eligible students. This includes those who are not meeting Title IV satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards, as long as the school prioritizes the receipt of funds based on exceptional need and awards the funds to cover any component of the student's cost of attendance (COA) or emergency costs that arise due to Coronavirus (i.e., the allowable uses under the CRRSAA and ARP).

According to guidance NASFAA has received from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the same applies to HEERF III student grants. See AskRegs Q&A, What Factors Do We Consider When Awarding HEERF II Student Grants Under the CRRSAA?, which we understand also applies to HEERF III funds.

HEERF I Funds Spent Prior to Passage of the CRRSAA on December 27, 2020
No. Effective with publication of the June 17, 2020 Interim Final Rule, the student must:

Under Section 484, a continuing student must be maintaining SAP to be a Title IV-eligible student and to receive HEERF I funds prior to the passage of the CRRSAA. Section 484 does not require an incoming student to meet SAP requirements.

The Title IV eligibility criterion was not new with the publication of the Interim Final Rule, but became enforceable by law starting on June 17, 2020. Be sure to review AskRegs Q&A, Must a Student Be Title IV-Eligible To Receive a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grant?, for historical information about enforcement of these provisions. Reference also the April 21, 2020 Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under Section 18004 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Unspent HEERF I Funds as of December 27, 2020 (Leftover HEERF I)
We're not sure at this time. Due to apparently conflicting guidance from ED, NASFAA is attempting to obtain further clarification from ED. Until such time as we receive that guidance, schools should continue to restrict leftover HEERF I funds to Title IV-eligible students, just as they would for HEERF I funds spent prior to the passage of the CRRSAA.

Update Note: This AskRegs Q&A was previously updated to reflect a change in NASFAA's understanding on this issue as a result of ED's April 21, 2020 Frequently Asked Questions. NASFAA’s previous understanding was based on a strict reading of the CARES Act, as passed by the President on March 27, 2020.

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