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Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III)

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) has received its HEERF III funding from the U.S. Department of Education in the amount of $380,365. GCSOM is required under the terms of the award to provide at least $190,183 of this amount as direct awards to students to offset their increased costs as a result of the pandemic.

Who is eligible to receive HEERF III funding? 

GCSOM will distribute the funding received directly to medical and graduate students who, as of the date the awards are determined, were enrolled at the institution and demonstrated financial need as determined by GCSOM's Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Office will continually monitor and assess eligibility until all funds are exhausted.

How are award amounts determined?

Funds are awarded to students who meet the eligibility requirements (above) and demonstrate financial need as of the date of grant distribution. As a proxy to prioritize students with exceptional need, the expected family contribution (EFC) was used by the GCSOM’s Financial Aid Office to determine level of award with a range of $250 to $350 for eligible students.

What expenses can be covered with HEERF III funding?

Grant funds can be used for any component of a student’s cost of attendance (COA) or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as food, tuition, housing, healthcare (including mental healthcare) or childcare.

How can I make sure I will receive my funding quickly?

Please be sure to set up direct deposit with the Bursar’s Office. If you do not have direct deposit on file, need to confirm your account information or have any questions related to the payment, reach out to bursar@som.geisinger.edu. This is the quickest way to receive the funding. If this is not possible, please make sure the billing address you have listed in Empower Web is correct. This address is where your paper check will be mailed if no direct deposit information is provided. Any changes to direct deposit or billing addresses need to be completed by Aug. 6, 2021. Awards will be processed as quickly as possible once eligibility is confirmed and final arrangements are made. We anticipate that payments will be made by the second week of August.

How do I apply for HEERF III funding?

Eligible students (as defined above) do not need to apply for this emergency assistance and will receive an email from the Office of Financial Aid if eligible for an award. Students who have not received a grant and would like to be considered for an emergency grant can contact the Office of Financial Aid for assistance.

A separate application for students seeking additional funding under HEERF III will be made available through the Financial Aid Office. The funding will be first-come, first serve until the funds have been exhausted and not to exceed a cap of $500 per student. Applicants for additional emergency assistance would receive a separate disbursement.

Student informational sessions

The Office of Financial Aid hosted three, 45-minute informational sessions for students interested in understanding the funding associated with the federal government’s third round of COIVD-19 assistance called HEERF III. The session also discussed professional judgment so that the students understand their options and the application process associated with a professional judgement. Sessions were held on the following dates and times:

  • July 26, 2021 at 2 p.m. EDT
  • July 26, 2021 at 5 p.m. EDT
  • July 27, 2021 at 10 a.m. EDT

Informational sessions were advertised on digital signage on campus as well as in the student daily broadcast emails.

Contact Financial Aid

Students who feel that their financial circumstances have drastically changed can contact the Office of Financial Aid for counseling and assistance with other types of emergency assistance that may be available. In addition to the current HEERF funding requests provided to students, any student applying for the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to the recent unemployment of a family member or dependent. The student should contact the Financial Aid Office after the information sessions listed above are completed to discuss their specific circumstances. These requests will be reviewed at any time during the academic year. Communication to the students will be through direct emails and Broadcast messages. In-person meetings will be held as necessary.

To contact Financial Aid, call 570-504-9641 or email financialaid@som.geisinger.edu.