Friday, February 19, 2021

Update: Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF II)

The University of Iowa will be receiving additional funds from the most recent stimulus package to distribute during the spring 2021 semester to assist students. Funds to assist students were established by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). In 2020, the funding was provided through the CARES Act (Public Law 116-136).

This new funding for 2021 is through the Higher Education Emergency Relief funds and is being referred to as HEERF II funds. Because this is a different funding bill, different rules apply. Schools are required by the U.S. Department of Education to prioritize students with exceptional financial need. Therefore, students will only be allowed to apply for these funds if they demonstrate financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is cost of attendance minus expected family contribution. More information about HEERF II application requirements is here.

Though the application is not yet available, students and their families can take these steps now to begin preparing to apply:

  • Complete the 2020-2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), if you have not already done so. The FAFSA is required to be able to apply for HEERF II funds.
  • Double check your MyUI Financial Aid To Do List to see if you have any additional documents to complete for federal verification.
  • Continue to watch the weekly COVID-19 updates closely for updates on the application process and deadline. The university will share more information about the application process in March, and the date the application opens will be communicated in advance.

Students experiencing financial distress or uncertainty also should review the resources available to them through the Office of Student Financial Aid and reach out to discuss other aid options. The Office of the Dean of Students also may be able to provide relief through the Student Emergency Fund.

Reminder: Instructional breaks are March 2, April 14

The University of Iowa would like to remind faculty, staff, and students that, as announced in September 2020, there will be no spring break in March. The decision to cancel spring break was made to deter travel and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in the community and to keep the same number of instructional days during the semester while starting a week later in January.

However, the university is providing two instructional breaks during the spring 2021 semester to give faculty and students a brief respite from instruction. The first instructional break day will be Tuesday, March 2. The second will be Wednesday, April 14. Due to the unique needs of their curriculum, professional colleges and programs were able to request an exception from the instructional breaks. If students in professional colleges or programs have questions, they should contact their academic program office.

Faculty and students are reminded that standard instruction and attendance policies for students apply during what would have been spring break week.

The university acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major effect on the well-being of all faculty, staff, and students. Even though the vaccine provides us with a renewed sense of hope, we may continue to find ourselves struggling with feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

Please know that the university offers resources to help you cope.

For more information about mental health resources, see

For counseling and support, the Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling at no cost for UI employees and their families.

COVID-19 vaccine update: Frequently asked questions

Q: Am I required to be vaccinated?

A: No. You are encouraged to receive the vaccine as soon as you are eligible, in consultation with your health care provider, but it will not be mandatory.

Q: I received the COVID-19 vaccine, but am a close contact of someone who has tested positive. Do I need to quarantine?

A: Yes. You should continue to follow the same health, safety, and self-reporting guidelines if you are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, even after you have been vaccinated.

It will take time for everyone who wants to be vaccinated to receive the required doses so, until then, all of us must continue to take the steps necessary to protect ourselves and our community. You should continue to wear a face mask, avoid large gatherings, maintain social distance, and frequently wash your hands.

For campus vaccination information and updates, see To learn more about vaccines and vaccine safety, see the University of Iowa Health Care COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Feb. 17, 2021.

The University of Iowa has published an updated snapshot of self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff, and students.

Number of self-reported cases of COVID-19


  • New cases: 9
  • Total cases: 2,991


  • New cases: 1
  • Total cases: 437

These numbers reflect only self-reported positive or presumed positive COVID-19 tests from UI faculty, staff, and students on the academic campus since Aug. 18, 2020. These data will not match data reported by UI Hospitals & Clinics or by the Iowa Department of Public Health for several reasons, including different testing time intervals and geographic scope. Students who also are employees of the university are only reported in the student number to avoid double counting. The UI has more than 30,000 students and nearly 30,000 employees. Many employees continue to work remotely but have self-reported to authorize sick leave.

Number of residence hall students in quarantine: 0*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 5**

*Quarantine: Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.

**Self-isolation: Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are symptomatic and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.