Penn State to award $10M in student COVID-19 relief funding for summer 2021

August 02, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is awarding COVID-19 relief grants totaling $10 million to help students enrolled during the summer 2021 semester cover any component of their cost of attendance or other emergency expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants are part of $76.2 million allocated to the University for student emergency aid from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III, as authorized by the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) that was signed into law in March.

Following the summer awards and to help meet anticipated ongoing student financial need due to the pandemic, Penn State is planning to award the remaining ARP dollars to students during the 2021-22 academic year. As directed by law and the U.S. Department of Education, institutions of higher education have one year from receipt of their ARP allocation — in Penn State’s case, until May 2022 — to distribute the funds to students.

Penn State will disburse summer 2021 American Rescue Plan grants via two rounds of funding. In the first round, the University will award grants up to $1,000 each to more than 8,000 students University-wide who are enrolled during the summer 2021 semester. The first-round grants prioritize students with exceptional financial need, as determined by data from the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Following the first round, Penn State will allocate all remaining summer 2021 ARP funds — projected to be approximately $2 million — for an application-based second round of funding to support students in need who did not file a FAFSA or who did not qualify for a grant in the initial round. Under U.S. Department of Education guidelines, all students are eligible to apply for these federal dollars, regardless of citizenship status. Students with eligible expenses must be enrolled during the summer 2021 semester to apply. Additional details about the second round of funding and how to apply will be provided in the near future.  

Students who qualify for a first-round grant will soon receive notification of their award via their Penn State email address from the Office of Student Aid, along with instructions on how to accept or decline the aid in LionPATH. The subject line on the email will be “American Rescue Plan Award.” The funding can be used to cover any component of a student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to COVID-19, including tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or child care, provided that the expense was incurred on or after the start of the national COVID-19 emergency on March 13, 2020.

When accepting their grant, students will be required to affirm that the money will be used for eligible expenses in accordance with the American Rescue Plan. Students will be able to request a lower grant amount if their personal circumstances do not require the full award offer. Students also will be able to choose if they would like the money to be refunded to them directly, applied to an outstanding balance on their student account for summer 2021, or a combination of the two options.

The award framework was developed by a task group with broad representation from across the University. Grant recipients include undergraduate, graduate, law and medical students at all Penn State campuses, as well as Penn State World Campus students.

Penn State previously awarded $27.5 million in student emergency grants in 2020 from its HEERF I allocation, as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In spring 2021, the University awarded an additional $27.5 million in relief grants to students via HEERF II, as authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

Answers to frequently asked questions about the summer 2021 American Rescue Plan student emergency grants, as well as the University’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund reporting information, can be found on Penn State’s official coronavirus information website.

Last Updated August 05, 2021