Penn State received more than $150 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III as part of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP), which was signed into law on March 11, 2021. As prescribed by law, approximately $76.2 million of Penn State’s allocation will be awarded to students as emergency financial aid grants.

During the summer 2021 semester, Penn State awarded more than $8 million in ARP funding to over 8,000 students.

For the fall 2021 semester, Penn State will award $50 million in American Rescue Plan student grants via two rounds of funding. In the first round, the University will award grants to more than 31,000 students University-wide with demonstrated exceptional financial need, as determined by data from the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on their level of need, students will be offered a grant of $1,000, $1,500 or $1,800, with approximately 19,000 Pell Grant-eligible students receiving the maximum $1,800 award.

After the first round concludes, Penn State will award all remaining ARP funds allocated for the fall semester, anticipated to be at least $2 million, during an application-based second round of funding. The second-round awards, valued at $1,000 each, will support students with exceptional financial need who did not file or were not eligible to file a FAFSA, or who did not qualify for grant in the initial round. Details about how to apply for a second-round grant will be announced later this fall.

Following the fall awards, the University will award all remaining ARP student funds — expected to be approximately $18 million — during the spring 2022 semester to help meet anticipated ongoing student need as a result of the pandemic. The University will award all ARP student funds by May 2022.

​Penn State’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund reporting information is available here.

An American Rescue Plan student emergency grant may 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 March 13, 2020, the date of the national emergency declaration. 

When accepting the grant in LionPATH, students must affirm that the money will be used in accordance with the American Rescue Plan for costs incurred due to the pandemic or for expenses related to their cost of attendance. 

Students who are offered a first-round grant will receive notification via their Penn State email account from the Office of Student Aid. The subject line on the email will be “American Rescue Plan Fall Award.” Students will need to follow the instructions provided to accept or decline the funding in LionPATH, or to request a lower award amount based on their individual circumstances. Students who accept their grant 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 fall 2021, or a combination of the two options. 

Students requesting a refund will be provided with information on how to enroll in eRefund to receive the funds via direct deposit, or to update their bank account information for eRefund. Students who do not enroll in eRefund will have a paper check sent to their permanent address on file. 

Students who are awarded a first-round grant must act to accept it by Nov. 15, as all unclaimed funds will be awarded to other students during the second-round application process. 

No. The student emergency grants do not have to be paid back.

No. The emergency grants will not be counted as estimated financial assistance in the current year of the award, and therefore will not impact other aid resources, nor as income for federal student aid purposes for future years of eligibility.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, emergency financial aid granted to a student by an institution of higher education because of an event related to the COVID-19 pandemic is not included in the student’s gross income and is not taxable.

Yes. First-round grant recipients for fall 2021 include undergraduate, graduate, law and medical students at all Penn State campuses, as well as Penn State World Campus students. 

Students at all Penn State campuses enrolled for the fall 2021 semester who were not identified for a grant during the first round of funding will be able to apply for a grant in the second round once that application process opens. 

Yes. Recognizing that not all students have completed or were eligible to complete a 2021-22 FAFSA, and knowing that the finances of many students and their families may have changed dramatically due to the pandemic, Penn State will open an application-based second round of funding for students who were not identified to receive a grant in the initial round. Under U.S. Department of Education guidelines, all students, including non-U.S. citizens, will be eligible to apply for these federal dollars once the application opens. Details on how to apply for a second-round grant will be announced soon.

Complete Penn State provides resources such as financial aid for students who are within one or two semesters of completing their first associate or bachelor’s degree and experience a situation that negatively impacts their ability to complete their degree. Eligible students are invited to request support here.

For assistance in navigating state and federal assistance programs, Student Affairs’ Guide to Public Assistance website can help. In addition, the Office of Student Care and Advocacy can assist students with financial issues and help students apply for the Student Emergency Fund.

In addition to financial resources, the global pandemic has created additional need for mental health support. Penn State encourages any student experiencing mental health distress to reach out to local campus and community resources. For emergency mental health needs, Penn State’s 24/7 Crisis Line is available at 877-229-6400 for enrolled students or individuals concerned about enrolled students. The Penn State Crisis Text Line is also available for 24/7 mental health support by texting “LIONS” to 741741. Individuals supporting students can learn more about how to help students in distress via the University’s Red Folder website.