What Is the Deadline for Distributing Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds?

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This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A is under review pending further clarification from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on whether there is a single deadline that has been reset, or whether there are multiple deadlines--one for each allocation of funds.

This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on February 4, 2021 to correct an error in the timeframe for schools that previously received Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant funds under the CARES Act (HEERF I funds) to start drawing down supplemental HEERF II funds under Section 314(a)(1) of the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA, Section 314 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021).

Unless specifically indicated below, the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA, Section 314 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) rules apply to both leftover HEERF grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (HEERF I funds) after December 27, 2020 and to new funds under the CRRSAA (HEERF II funds).

Deadline to Distribute HEERF II Funds
According to U.S. Department of Education (ED) guidance obtained by NASFAA, the school has one year from the date the school's supplemental grant was processed to distribute the HEERF II funds. For example, if a school's supplemental HEERF II funds were processed on January 20, 2021, the funds must be spent on or before January 19, 2022. If funds are not spent within the year allotted, a no-cost extension may be requested if applicable.

ED is aware of the incorrect dates on some Grant Award Notifications (GANs), and has indicated that these will be updated to reflect the correct budget performance period. ED's immediate priority is to process the supplemental grant awards for all eligible institutions of higher education.

Note: Because the dates of performance are incorrect on the supplemental grants issued in January 2021, an automated email was sent out from G5 requesting clarification from schools on remaining funds so close to grant end date. The "Dear Project Director" email asked three questions about the school's HEERF obligations through the end of the current budget period. According to ED, schools should disregard this email. ED reiterated that it will be correcting the GAN dates for the use of supplemental HEERF II funds as noted above.

Additionally, schools that previously received HEERF I grant funds under the CARES Act are required to start drawing down funds from both the student and institutional portions of HEERF II funds within 90 days of receiving their respective supplemental HEERF II award notifications. According to the Notice Inviting Applications for Funds, the following applies to both supplemental HEERF II student and institutional grant funds:

"Recipient acknowledges that its failure to draw down any amount of its supplemental grant funds within 90 days of the date of this supplemental award will constitute nonacceptance of the terms, conditions, and requirements of this Supplemental Agreement and of these supplemental grant funds. In such event, the Department, in its sole discretion, may choose to deobligate these supplemental grant funds or take other appropriate administrative action, up to and including terminating the grant award pursuant to 2 CFR 200.340."

Remember, the school cannot simply draw down it's entire HEERF II student and institutional allocations at once. See AskRegs Q&A, Should HEERF Funds Be Drawn Down From G5 As They Are Awarded Or In a Lump Sum?, for more information.

Schools that did not previously receive HEERF I funds, including proprietary institutions, have until April 15, 2021 to apply for HEERF II funds. There is no requirement that they also have to start drawing down funds before April 15, but they will want to check their GAN to see if there is a similar drawdown deadline.

Deadline to Distribute HEERF I Funds
According to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Supplemental Frequently Asked Questions, which was updated by ED on August 6, 2020 and again on September 8, 2020, the deadline for spending HEERF grants (student and institutional) under the CARES Act is as follows:

"What is the deadline (project period or period of performance) for institutions to spend Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) funds received under the CARES Act? [see footnote 1]

All institutions were given 1 calendar year (365 days) from the date of award in their HEERF Grant Award Notification (GAN) to complete the performance of their HEERF grant. [see footnote 2] Therefore, for example, if a grantee received a GAN on April 7, 2020, the one calendar year period of performance for their HEERF grant would be through April 6, 2021.

Please note that after the end of the year-long period of performance, grantees have an additional 90 calendar days to liquidate their obligations made during their year-long period of performance as part of the grant closeout procedures (2 CFR § 200.343(b)).

The Department understands that some grantees, even given the emergency nature of the HEERF grant, may be unable to obligate funds by this time. Consequently, no-cost extensions (NCEs) of up to 12 months are available as provided for in 2 CFR § 200.308(d)(2). NCEs may not be exercised merely for the purpose of using unobligated balances. Given the emergency nature of HEERF grants, the Department does not intend an NCE to extend longer than 12 months. HEERF grantees are encouraged to discuss any need for an NCE with their respective program officer well in advance of the end of their grant period of performance.

For general information about grant management, grantee responsibilities, and grant closeout, please consult our guide, Grantmaking at ED, available here.
1 A previous version of the FAQ inaccurately stated that schools had until September 30, 2022 to use HEERF grant funds. This revised version of the answer conforms with the project period listed in the GANs and supersedes the previously provided FAQ.
2 See Box 6 in your HEERF GAN (“Federal Funding Period”). All HEERF grant programs received a 1 calendar year period of performance from their GAN."

Questions related to this guidance should go directly to HEERF@ed.gov.

Previous Guidance--Two Previous Deadlines: The previous version of the Supplemental FAQs published on June 30, 2020 indicated a deadline of September 30, 2022. Originally, the HEERF Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students and the Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for the Institutional Portion both state that schools must "promptly and to the greatest extent practicable" distribute HEERF emergency grants by one year from the date they signed the certification. Both previous deadlines are superseded by the new guidance.


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