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As we continue to respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is committed to providing financial assistance to students in need. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) was authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, and signed into law on March 11, 2021, which is providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the legislation passed, WPI has received approximately $3.6 million for distribution directly to eligible students, especially those with exceptional need. This funding will help offset their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care. WPI’s allocation was determined by the Department of Education (DOE), based on student enrollment, and weighted toward the number of students who received a Federal Pell Grant.

Also, in accordance with the ARP requirements, WPI is conducting direct outreach to financial aid applicants about the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to the recent unemployment of a family member or independent student, or other special circumstances, described in section 479A of the HEA. The email outlining the process was sent directly to students on August 18, 2021. 

If you have any questions regarding the above information, please email finaid@wpi.edu or call 508-831-5469.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the ARP: American Rescue Plan (HEERF III)? (9/1/2021)

    The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) was authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, and signed into law on March 11, 2021, which is providing $39.6 billion in support to institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As part of the legislation passed, WPI has received approximately $3.6 million for distribution directly to eligible students, especially those with exceptional need. This funding will help offset their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care. WPI’s allocation was determined by the Department of Education (DOE), based on student enrollment, and weighted toward the number of students who received a Federal Pell Grant.

    Also, in accordance with the ARP requirements, WPI is conducting direct outreach to WPI 2021-2022 financial aid applicants about the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to the recent unemployment of a family member or independent student, or other special circumstances, described in section 479A of the HEA. The email outlining the process was sent directly to financial aid applicants on August 18, 2021. You may also learn more here.

  • How do I submit a special circumstances appeal, or professional judgement appeal, for a review of my 2021-2022 financial aid offer? (9/1/2021)

    Special circumstances are anything that differentiates the family’s finances from those of other families.  Reasons for a professional judgment request may include (but are not limited to):

    • Recent unemployment
    • Recent death of wage earner
    • Recent change in marital status
    • Recent unusually high out of pocket medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance
    • Other significant, measurable, and involuntary changes in financial circumstances

    Steps to request a special circumstance/professional judgement review: 

    1. Submit the required form and additional documentation. 
    2. Once all documentation has been received, allow 3-4 weeks for processing.

    a.Please allow additional time for processing during our peak enrollment times.

    b.The Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy may request additional information from you. Please check your WPI email frequently. 

    Appeal review has begun. The appeal form will close April 2, 2022.

    Please note that if you have already filed a special circumstance appeal and/or received an approved professional judgement for the 2021-2022 academic year, you may re-file this form; however, you may not be eligible for additional funding.

    Students will be notified via email of the outcome of the review and award adjustments can be viewed via your WPI Financial Aid Portal.

    **Please note that a Professional Judgment request does not guarantee approval.  In addition, even if approved, the recalculation of FAFSA data does not always result in an increase of aid eligibility.  If the professional judgment is not in your favor, it will not be processed.

  • How will the student grant funds be distributed? (9/1/2021)

    In the first phase, beginning the week of September 13, 2021, all full-time undergraduate students who are recipients of the Federal Pell Grant (as of Monday, September 13, 2021), enrolled in, and charged for, A Term of fall 2021, will receive a one-time grant of $5,000. 

    • There is no application required for this funding. 
    • This approach prioritizes students with exceptional need, per the HEERF III guidelines. 

    In order to provide grants to students as quickly as possible, it is imperative that all eligible students sign up for direct deposit through their Workday portal (where students view and pay their student account bills).  If students do not update or sign up for direct deposit, they will receive a physical check sent to their home address on file with WPI. Students may also request to hold the funds on their student account by emailing finaid@wpi.edu by Monday, September 13th. A separate notice will be sent to these students receiving these funds after A Term add/drop (September 8th).

    In the second phase, funding will be granted to eligible students through an application process. Applications will be reviewed by the Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy. 

    An email will be sent to students at their WPI email when the application is open later in September and provided the application link at that time.

    • The decision whether the applicant will receive a grant will be on a case-by-case basis, determined by demonstrated need and may include a review of any financial-related documents the applicant has on file with the Financial Aid Office (e.g., 2021-2022 FAFSA). 
    • The number of students who will receive a grant will be subject to the availability of funds. 
    • These grants will not exceed $1,000 per student.
    • Federal Pell Grant recipients may apply for additional funding. 
  • Which students are eligible to receive HEERF III student grants? (9/1/2021)

    Students who are, or were, enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or are eligible for Title IV. 

    As under the CRRSAA, institutions are directed with the ARP funds to prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants or are undergraduates with extraordinary financial circumstances in awarding emergency financial aid grants to students. 

    Beyond Pell eligibility, other types of exceptional need could include students who may be eligible for other federal or state need-based aid or have faced significant unexpected expenses, such as the loss of employment (either for themselves or their families), reduced income, or food or housing insecurity. 

    In addition, the CRRSAA and ARP explicitly state that emergency financial aid grants to students may be provided to students exclusively enrolled in distance education provided the institution prioritizes exceptional need.

  • May undocumented students and international students receive HEERF III? (9/1/2021)

    Yes. The Department’s final rule on student eligibility for HEERF states that all students who are or were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the COVID-19 national emergency are eligible for emergency financial aid grants from the HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are eligible for Title IV. 

    That includes citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students. International students may also receive HEERF. 

    However, as noted, institutions must ensure that funds go to students who have exceptional need. The Department encourages institutions to prioritize domestic students, especially undergraduates, in allocating this funding. This includes citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students.

  • Do eligible students need to sign up for direct deposit to receive the HEERF III student grants? (9/1/2021)

    Yes. In order to provide grants to students as quickly as possible, it is imperative that all eligible students sign up for direct deposit through their Workday portal (where students view and pay their student account eBills). If students are not able to sign up for direct deposit, or do not do so, they will receive a physical check sent to their home address on file with WPI.

    To set up the direct deposit, you can learn more here under payment elections and direct deposit refunds. 

    You must specify a U.S. personal checking or savings account as your direct bank deposit account. Please be very careful when entering your bank information as incorrect data may cause a delay in your refund.

    The Bursar's Office has additional information here.

  • May eligible students request to hold HEERF III student grants on their student account? (9/1/2021)

    Yes. However, Federal Pell Grant recipients receiving phase 1 funding must make this request in writing to finaid@wpi.edu by Monday, September 13, 2021. 

    Students submitting an online application for consideration of student grant funding will have the option to make the selection to hold the funds on their account within the online form. 

  • How will eligible students know if they have already set up direct deposit? (9/1/2021)

    Students may check their direct deposit status in Workday. You can learn more here. You may also email the Bursar with questions at bursar@wpi.edu.

  • May students who receives a HEERF III student grant, or students whose applications for a grant are denied, appeal the award decision? (9/1/2021)

    No.  Award decisions are determined on a case-by-case basis following the review of a submitted application form and/or review of the student’s demonstrated need. 

    WPI students will be notified when the application opens in the end of September 2021 via their WPI email. 

    Students who are approved for funding will be notified via email by late October 2021. 

    Students may also consider requesting money from the Dean of Students Student Emergency Loan Fund and the WPI Emergency Assistance Fund.

  • How does a HEERF III student grant affect a student’s standard WPI financial aid package? (9/1/2021)

    If a student receives a HEERF II emergency financial aid grant, it will have no impact on 2021-2022 WPI financial aid. 

  • Will HEERF student grants be counted as income for the calculation of Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or estimated financial assistance (EFA)? (9/1/2021)

    No. Emergency financial aid grants made by a federal agency, State, Indian tribe, higher education institution or scholarship-granting organization (including a tribal organization) to a student because of an event related to the COVID-19 national emergency are not included in the student's gross income.