The coronavirus pandemic has made life more difficult for many who pursue higher education, especially those who were already struggling to juggle studies and bills and other expenses. If you are a student who is in a difficult financial situation, there are resources available that could help you. Below are three types of emergency financial assistance available to students, along with some relief options that student loan borrowers may benefit from.
What emergency financial aid is available for students?
In response to the coronavirus, many colleges and organizations have made emergency funds available. Here’s what to look for.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, students have a new option for financial aid that may benefit them. The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) law established the Higher Education Emergency Aid Fund (HEERF) with $ 14 billion worth of aid to eligible colleges and universities. In January 2021, additional emergency aid of $ 21.2 billion was made available through HEERF II.
Colleges and universities that have received funds from HEERF or HEERF II must pay a certain percentage of these funds to students in the form of emergency financial grants. The average size of these scholarships provided each eligible student with approximately $ 830 in emergency student assistance, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Students can direct emergency grant funds toward eligible expenses, such as:
- Health care.
- Child care.
- Course material.
How to register: Participating schools must disclose information about emergency grants available on their websites. You can also contact your university’s financial aid office to learn more about eligibility requirements and to request an application.
Emergency student loans
In addition to scholarships, some schools may provide emergency loans to students in dire financial need. Just keep in mind that unlike grants, you have to pay back emergency loans at some point in the future. So even if you do qualify, it is important to make sure that you understand the terms of the loan and that you are confident that you can repay the debt once the payments are due.
You may also have access to any help you qualified for but did not accept when you completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If your financial situation has changed since you submitted your FAFSA, you may be able to update your application and potentially receive additional Federal Student Loans. You can also consider private student loans also as a potential source of funding.
How to register: Visit your school’s financial aid office to find out if you have additional options for student loans – emergency or otherwise.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program that provides electronic benefits that you can use like cash to purchase food. Even if you weren’t eligible for these benefits in the past, you may be able to use them now. In response to the pandemic, more students are eligible for SNAP benefits on a temporary basis.
According to The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, students are eligible for SNAP benefits under the following circumstances:
- You are eligible to participate in a federal or state work-study program during the school year depending on your offer of financial assistance.
- Your expected family contribution is $ 0 for the current school year according to your student aid report.
In addition to federal benefits, your school may offer short-term solutions. Some schools will provide food vouchers or pantries to students without funds to purchase food.
How to register: Visit the USDA website to learn more and complete an application for SNAP benefits in your state. You can also contact your local SNAP office and your school’s financial aid office for further assistance.
Student loan relief options
If you are currently enrolled in school, there is a good chance that you do not have to start the student loan repayment process Again. Most federal student loan payments will be deferred until you graduate.
However, some private lenders require that you begin the repayment process immediately after the loan is disbursed. Check with your lender or see your loan agreement for more details on your loan repayment requirements.
If you have to pay off a student loan that you can’t afford, there may be other ways to find temporary financial relief.
- Administrative tolerance: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government the government has provided several relief measures for federal student loan borrowers. Payments and interest charges are suspended on eligible federal student loans until September 30, 2021.
- Arrangements in case of difficulties: Private student loan borrowers do not enjoy the same benefits as federal student loan borrowers under the CARES Act (and subsequent extensions). But your lender could offer you a forbearance or other loan relief options short term if you can’t afford your payments right now. Contact your lender as soon as possible if you are having financial difficulties that could affect your ability to pay off your debt as promised.
Factors to consider
Emergency help can save your life when you are a student in financial difficulty. Still, there are a few drawbacks you should keep in mind when researching your options.
- You will need to meet the eligibility requirements to receive grants, loans, or other types of financial assistance.
- If you qualify for an emergency grant or emergency loan from your school, it may not be large enough to meet all of your immediate financial needs.
- Federal and private student loans can give you more money, but you will need to pay back the money you borrow at some point in the future.
- Before being able to qualify for private student loans, a lender will want to check your credit and income.
If you are facing a financial crisis, don’t wait to seek help. The financial aid office at your particular school can be a great resource to provide immediate relief or help you find resources to weather the storm.