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Emergency Financial Aid for College Students

Emergency financial aid is an invaluable resource for college students in an unstable financial situation. If you or your parents’ income is affected, or you incur unexpected costs, you could have trouble making tuition payments. Luckily, there are some resources available for students in this situation. If you are having trouble meeting your living costs and paying for college, these resources should come in handy.

Resources through your college

Many colleges offer emergency assistance to students in an emergency. Each college has different emergency financial aid programs. For instance, some may offer grants to subsidize food and housing. Others may offer tuition grants or waivers.. And some may offer loans rather than grants. These resources can also go towards other education expenses. That may include books, internet costs, and even transportation costs like car repair or public transportation tickets.

College assistance can come through many avenues. For example, during the Coronavirus pandemic, UW-Madison distributed $1,000 to everyone who qualified for the Pell Grant. But at other schools, the process for retrieving emergency financial aid may be less simple. Students can reach out to the office of financial aid, the office of student life, and also their academic advisor if they are seeking emergency assistance. 

Although each college distributes aid differently, there is one common thread between schools. Almost every school determines aid eligibility based on the results of the FAFSA. For example, the University of Missouri calculated the amount of coronavirus aid students received based on their EFC. Students with an EFC between 0-12,000 received $1,000. Students with an EFC between 12,001 and 20,000 received $700. 

This is just another reason to make sure that you have your FAFSA filled out on time every year. If an emergency strikes, it is critical that you are eligible for any emergency aid that you could receive. 

Related: How to complete this year’s FAFSA

Housing discounts

Unfortunately, housing financial aid is hard to come by in an emergency. If you are in a dorm, you may be able to get a grant or discount at your school’s discretion. You can try reaching out to the office of housing or student affairs at your school. Even if you rent privately and live off-campus, your college may be able to help you secure emergency housing.

If dorms close during an emergency, international students may face unique challenges. Anyone who is unable to return home should contact their housing office to find out what options may remain open. The office of housing may be willing to work with students to ensure they have a place to stay.

Also read: How to pay for housing

Aid from the FCC

During the coronavirus pandemic, the FCC established a need-based Broadband internet discount program. Students who qualify for the Pell Grant are eligible, and some students in other situations may qualify as well. Students who qualify will receive up to $75 off of their Broadband costs per month. They can also use the program to receive a discount on computer or tablet purchases.

Next steps: Be prepared

If your finances are tight, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan before an emergency hits. The coronavirus is an example of a worldwide emergency that impacted everyone. But personal emergencies happen as well. You should learn what your options are if your income is interrupted or if you incur unexpected costs. A medical emergency could drastically change you or your parents’ finances. Make sure you know who to contact if you need financial help.

It’s also important to know that many scholarships have continuous enrollment clauses so sitting out a semester could drastically impact your financial aid. This is why the decision to withdraw from school should not be taken lightly and you should communicate with your academic advisor, as well as financial aid officers. These college administrators are your support system and there to help you succeed in college and navigate emergencies. 

Keep reading: How to pay for college