COVID-19/Coronavirus FAQs

 

Contacting the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA)

How can I contact OSFA?

In response to several UGA and State of Georgia directives regarding COVID-19, and for your safety and that of OSFA staff, UGA Office of Student Financial Aid is currently closed to in-person traffic. This closure is effective as of March 16, 2020 through TBD. Please contact us 24/7 by email at OSFA@UGA.EDU or by phone (706-542-6147) Mon.-Fri. between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

We will be monitoring our email box closely and plan to reply to your inquiry as soon as possible. Our goal is to respond to your email within 48 business hours of its receipt, but at a minimum, we promise to acknowledge its receipt within that timeframe.

 

What is the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund grant?

As required in the U.S. Department of Education May 6, 2020 Electronic Announcement, the University of Georgia is providing the following information:

  1. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act (Pub. L. 116-136) authorized the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) to allocate formula grant funds to postsecondary education institutions for the purpose of addressing needs related to coronavirus. The University of Georgia submitted to ED the Certification and Agreement for an Award under Section 18004(a)(2) of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

    The CARES Act established the allocation formula for the Higher Education Emergency Relief (“HEER”) Fund as the relative share of full-time equivalent enrollment of Federal Pell Grants recipients (75 percent of the allocation) and the relative share of full-time equivalent enrollment of students who were not Federal Pell Grant recipients (25 percent of the allocation). The CARES Act specifically excluded from the allocation formula students who, at the time of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus, were enrolled in programs of study offered exclusively online.

    According to the allocation formula, the University of Georgia is scheduled to receive $23,704,129 (PDF). As required, the University of Georgia will use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants (called “HEER Fund Grants” at UGA) to students. On April 21, 2020, the University received 50 percent ($11,852,065) of its allocation to administer HEER Fund Grants under the CARES Act.
  1. The total amount of funds the University of Georgia has received and will use for paying such HEER Fund Grants is $11,852,065.
  1. The total amount of HEER Fund Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act will be reported and updated 30 days after the university received the funds and then every 45 days thereafter. This section will be updated by May 20, 2020, and every 45 days thereafter.
  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive HEER Fund Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. Of all students who were enrolled for the Spring 2020 semester when it was disrupted due to the coronavirus, 23,552 had established eligibility for funding under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. In accordance with guidance from ED, eligibility has been determined by the University of Georgia based on students’ filings of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  1. The total number of students who have received a HEER Fund Grant. This section will be updated regularly until all funds are exhausted.
  • On May 19, 2020, the first distribution payment will be made to 13,513 students.
  1. To determine which students receive HEER Fund Grants and the amount they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act, the University of Georgia applied the following guidance and policies:
  • The CARES Act established the HEER Fund and authorized monies to aid in expenses related to the campus disruptions caused by COVID-19. Pursuant to guidance from ED, only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, may receive HEER Fund Grants. If a student has a valid 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then the University of Georgia considers the student to have demonstrated eligibility to participate in programs under Section 484 and thus be eligible for HEER Fund Grants, as long as all supporting documentation for eligibility is received and all other eligibility criteria under Section 484 are met. The CARES Act excluded from HEER Fund eligibility those students who were enrolled in online programs of study prior to the disruptions. Pursuant to the CARES Act and guidance from ED,  HEER Fund Grants are also not available to those who are ineligible to receive federal financial aid, such as international students, dual enrollment students, students who are not making satisfactory academic progress, have an unresolved “flag” on their FAFSA results, or are in default on a federal student loan, for example. Students participating in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) were also excluded from automatic eligibility.
  • The HEER Fund Grants are being awarded to students enrolled in the Spring 2020 semester who meet the above described eligibility criteria; the HEER Fund Grant amounts range between $200 and $1,000 and will be disbursed beginning May 19, 2020. In addition, students who were enrolled for Spring 2020 and also enroll in the Summer 2020 term (as of June 12, 2020, the date of eligibility determination) will receive an additional HEER Fund Grant ranging between $125 and $500. The Summer payment will be disbursed beginning June 15, 2020. Between the two payments (Spring and Summer), the maximum any one student will receive is $1,500. A pool of funds is set aside for appeals from students with exceptional need as detailed below.
  • In recognition of the U.S. Department of Education guidance (PDF) to prioritize HEER Funds to students with the greatest financial need, UGA based the amount of each HEER Fund Grant on a student’s demonstrated financial need, with maximum funding going to students who receive Federal Pell Grants. The demonstrated financial need for HEER Fund purposes uses the student’s established Spring 2020 Cost of Attendance minus the Spring 2020 portion of the Expected Family Contribution (calculated from FAFSA data) minus the Spring 2020 portion of the student’s annual Federal Direct Student Loan eligibility (not amounts accepted or borrowed, but the eligible amount that could be borrowed). Any resulting amount is the demonstrated financial need for HEER Fund purposes.
    1. Eligible students with demonstrated financial need between $1 and $1,999 will receive $200 in HEER Funds for the Spring payment and an additional $125 if also enrolled in Summer as of June 12, 2020.
    2. Eligible students with demonstrated need between $2,000 and $3,999 will receive $300 in HEER Funds for the Spring payment and an additional $150 if also enrolled in Summer as of June 12, 2020.
    3. Eligible students with demonstrated need of $4,000 or more will receive $400 in HEER Funds for Spring payment and an additional $200 if also enrolled in Summer as of June 12, 2020.
    4. Eligible students receiving Federal Pell Grants, regardless of the amount of demonstrated financial need, will receive $1,000 in HEER Funds for the Spring payment and an additional $500 if also enrolled in Summer as of June 12, 2020.
  • Students with exceptional circumstances may appeal to have their circumstances and costs considered for a HEER Fund Grant or additional funding of their HEER Fund Grant. Including any amount received as a result of an appeal, the maximum a student can receive is $1,500.
  • To submit an appeal, a student must use the HEER Fund Appeal Application. Appeals should be submitted by June 15, 2020 for the HEER Fund Appeals Committee to review and make decisions by the end of June. If a student does not already have a valid FAFSA on file at UGA, one should be filed by no later than June 1, 2020 using the FAFSA.gov website. The appeal committee will review appeals beginning June 22, 2020 from eligible appeal applicants with a valid FAFSA on file by June 1. Should funds remain after all appeals have been reviewed for applications with a FAFSA filed by June 1, the committee will consider applications from students who submitted a valid FAFSA after the June 1 date. Requests will be reviewed and awarded in the order in which they are received until the Appeal funds are exhausted.

  • If you have questions, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at osfa@uga.edu.

7. Instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the University of Georgia to students concerning the HEER Fund Grants can be found on the HEER Fund site and the COVID-19 section of the OSFA site. In addition, direct communications via email were sent to each student regarding eligibility for HEER Fund Grants.

 

Where can I get more information on the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund?

Please see the University’s HEER Fund page.

 

Emergency Aid (not part of HEER Fund)

Where can I apply for emergency resources for expenses incurred due to COVID-19?

First check with the Office of Student Financial Aid to ensure you have exhausted all available resources. If you have and still need emergency assistance, undergraduate students can apply through the UGA Student Emergency Fund here, and graduate students can apply through the UGA Graduate Student Emergency Fund here.

 

Will I have to repay my student financial aid due to the fact that UGA has moved to online courses for the remainder of the semester?

As long as you remain continuously enrolled, you will not have to repay your aid due to the switch to online courses that is a direct result of COVID-19. There may be financial aid implications if you choose to withdraw from all of your courses. Please click here for more information if withdrawing is a consideration.

 

Where can I get more information on my Spring 2020 refund?

Refunds are handled by UGA’s Bursar and Treasury Services Division. You can get more information here.

 

I am a dependent student and my parent lost their job or had a drastic reduction in hours due to COVID-19 closures. Is there anything I can do to request additional student financial aid?

You may request consideration of special circumstances, more commonly known as a professional judgment. Please click here for information about the Professional Judgment process.

 

HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarship

I am an incoming freshman and was unable to take the SAT or ACT prior to my high school graduation to determine my eligibility for the Zell Miller Scholarship. What can I do?

The Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) has provided updated guidance on this issue. Visit their COVID-19 web page for the most up to date information.

 

Study Away Questions

My study away program was cancelled, am I going to receive a refund?

The Office of Global Engagement (OGE) at UGA assists students with UGA Study Away related questions (UGA Study Away program participation, Status of UGA Study Away programs, OGE Policies regarding UGA Study Away programs, etc.).  Here is a link to the OGE website which details their resources and contact information.

 

 What happens to my financial aid if my study away program is cancelled?

A student’s enrollment status in courses impacts how student financial aid is awarded based on established federal, state, and institutional policies.  Please click here for more information on financial aid enrollment requirements. Students who are not enrolled cannot receive student financial aid.

 

What is the difference between being dropped or withdrawn from my program?

Please click here for more information on the difference between dropping your courses versus withdrawing entirely from the program.

A link to the UGA Registrar's Office website that details the official UGA academic calendars and the corresponding official UGA drop/add period dates and be found here.

 

How is my HOPE or Zell Miller affected if my study abroad program is cancelled? Is there a difference between drop vs withdrawal?

The key factor is the difference between dropping courses and withdrawing from courses and you can find more information here.  Courses dropped during the official drop/add period, and that do not appear on a student’s transcript, do not count toward a student’s HOPE/Zell Miller Attempted Hours and cannot be paid for by HOPE/Zell Miller.  Courses from which the student withdraws after the official drop/add period count toward a student’s HOPE/Zell Miller Attempted Hours and can be paid for by the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship.

Withdrawing from all courses may result in the student repaying a portion of their financial aid, including the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship. Student Accounts Services determines the prorated repayment amount in this situation following federal regulations. Visit their website and click on ‘Refunds’ for more information.