The HEERF III ARPA Grant: An Explainer

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Over the last several weeks, Queens College (QC) and other CUNY students noticed a new item in their To-Do list in CUNYFIRST: the ARPA HEERF III grant. This caused a slight panic among many students who were confused about the grant, its purpose, and how they are able to access their funds. To clear some of the confusion up, The Knight News reached out to Jennifer Jarvis the QC Interim Vice President for Student Affairs to clear up some of the confusion regarding the whole process. 

To start, what is the HEERF III/ARPA grant? HEERF/ARPA stands for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund/American Rescue Plan Act and is a package of funding relief to students at higher education institutions across the country funded as a part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, passed in March. This is a similar process to the one students who received the HEERF II grants back in the Spring 2021 semester experienced. As Jarvis told The Knight News, “The difference between the two grants are the funding source and deadlines.” In the case of the Spring grants, those were earmarked through the HEERF II Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) signed into law by President Donald Trump in December of 2020.

Assuming one is eligible, a determination based on a student’s FAFSA Expected Family Contribution, how would they go about attaining their money? In short, nothing. All students determined to be eligible for the grant will receive it automatically either through a check to their mailing address or, through the CUNY Direct Deposit program if enrolled. As for the to-do list item that appeared on students’ CUNYFIRST profiles, that isn’t permission to receive the funds (contrary to a text message rumor that suggested otherwise) but rather to allow CUNY to apply the ARPA funds directly to a student’s fall expenses. As Jarvis told us, “This semester, eligible students can have the grant applied directly to cover their fall semester expenses.  If students were provided with the option to opt-in (and they did), then their grant was applied to fall 2021 semester expenses. For those students that did not opt-in (or did nothing), they will receive the grant directly.”

For all those students who checked the box granting permission for CUNY to apply ARPA funds to their account but wish to undo their decision, there is a way out. According to Jarvis, “a student can request to revoke consent by completing a HEERF Revocation of Consent Letter prior to the disbursement date.  The Revocation of Consent Letter can be found on the CUNY website.  The original letter with an ink signature must be submitted to the Bursar Office before processing the grant.  A revocation request cannot be processed once awarding has begun for a student.” A link to the revocation of the consent letter can be found here.

For students who want more information on the grant, frequently asked questions can be found on the CUNY site here as well as by contacting the QC Bursar’s office at

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