Financial Aid COVID-19 FAQs

Financial Aid

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)


Southwestern University is pleased to announce the availability of emergency grants for students from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).  These funds have been made available through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act., and provides direct emergency financial aid grants to students. In total, the university was allocated $606,725 in HEERF funding for direct assistance to students.

Guidance from the US Department of Education indicates that these funds are intended to assist students with any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.  The guidance directed Southwestern to prioritize students with the greatest need, and develop policies that help to distribute these funds as widely as possible.

At Southwestern, this means that to be eligible for a HEERF II Grant a student must:

  • be enrolled (in person or online) at Southwestern in the Spring of 2021 or have been participating in an approved study abroad/study away program in the Spring of 2021
  • be a US Citizen, US Permanent Resident or eligible noncitizen.

What if a student does not meet the citizenship requirements?  Students who do not meet citizenship requirements above (such as international students or ineligible noncitizens) but who have emergency funding needs may still submit a HEERF application to be considered for emergency grant funding from the Southwestern Emergency Fund.

What do I need to do to receive a HEERF Grant?  Many students will receive a HEERF Grant without needing to complete an application, but will be required to complete a Payment Preference Form to indicate how they want their funds paid. Some students will need to submit an application to be considered for a HEERF Grant.  The chart below will help a student determine what action is required for their HEERF Grant.

Students will be assigned to a tier using the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) as determined through the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The amounts awarded in each tier, and application requirements, are as follows:

Group Eligibility criteria Award Amount per student Action Required?
Tier 1 EFC range:  0 - 5711 $1,000 Complete a Payment Preference Form
Tier 2 EFC range: 
5712  - 22174
$750 Complete a Payment Preference Form
Tier 3 EFC above 22174 or FAFSA not filed

Variable amounts, not to exceed $750.  

The actual amount a student receives will be based upon information provided through an application, the number of applicants, and the available funds. 

Apply for funds using the  

SU HEERF II Grant Application.  

Application period is from 3/4/21 through 12pm 3/19/21.

How can I confirm which tier that I am assigned to?  

On March 4, 2021 students will be notified of their tier assignment via their SU email account.  

For Tier 1 and 2 students, the notification will include the amount they will receive.  Instructions for completing the Payment Preference Form will be included.

Tier 3 students will be provided with a link to the application.  The application will be open from March 4 - March 19 (12pm), 2021 .

What are the options for receiving funds?

HEERF II Grants may be applied to student accounts with written permission from the student or the student may choose to have their funds sent directly to the same bank account where their student account refunds are sent.  Therefore, students must indicate their choice using the Payment Preference Form.

Students may select from the following options:

  1. Apply the total award to the SU student account 
  2. Apply a portion of the award to pay off the SU student account balance and send the remaining amount via echeck using the student account refund direct deposit information on file. 
  3. Send the total award amount via echeck using the student account refund direct deposit information on file.

When and how will I receive my funds?  

Tier 1 and 2 students:  The HEERF Grant notification email will contain a link to the Payment Preference Form that must be completed before payment can be made. Payment Preference Forms that are submitted by March 8, 2021 will have grant payments released on March 12, 2021  in accordance with the student’s direction on the Payment Preference Form.  Future disbursements will be made on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week as Payment Preference Forms are received and direct deposit information is set up. If the student does not complete the Payment Preference Form or set up direct deposit by March 15, the payment will be automatically sent to the student either by direct deposit using the student account refund direct deposit information on file or by paper check to the student’s permanent home address on March 19, 2021.   Students who have not yet set up direct deposit are encouraged to do so as soon as possible by following the instructions for setting up direct deposit.  

Tier 3 students:  Applications for Tier 3 students will be reviewed as they are received.  Grant payments for approved applicants will occur beginning March 17, 2021.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the application period, with the last notifications and grant payments occurring no later than April 2, 2021.   Notifications will be sent to student’s SU email accounts.  Those who do not meet the citizenship requirements for HEERF funds will be automatically considered for a grant from the Southwestern Emergency Fund, and will be notified of the outcome of that review via their SU email account.  Funds will be disbursed via direct deposit or paper check no later than April 2, 2021.  Students who have not yet set up direct deposit should do so as soon as possible.

May I apply HEERF funds to my outstanding balance on my SU Student Account?

Yes.  You may use these funds to help pay the remaining balance on your student account.  Tier 1 and 2 students will receive instructions on how to do this in their notification email. Tier 3 students can indicate on the HEERF application if they wish to apply funds to their account.

More details about the HEERF Grants may be found in the Frequently Asked Questions page.  

Southwestern is pleased to be able to assist students during this challenging time.  Questions regarding the HEERF Grants may be directed to the following offices:

Questions regarding general HEERF eligibility and the FAFSA.

SU Financial Aid Office:  512-863-1259 or

Questions regarding general HEERF eligibility, direct deposits, and student refunds

SU Business Office:  512-863-1928 or