Whether you're a high school senior waiting for college notifications, a current college student working to shift from on-campus to online classes or an underclassman affected by the SAT and ACT cancellations, the coronavirus has made an impact on every student. One very stressful effect of the COVID-19 emergency is a change in finances for many families. Some organizations are stepping in to help with tuition expenses as students and families struggle to pay their bills. Check out the following three financial resources that can help you mitigate the coronavirus-prompted financial crunch.
Scholly's COVID-19 Student Relief Fund
The scholarship search platform Scholly is inviting students to apply for its COVID-19 Student Relief Fund, which will provide $200 to affected students, parents and graduates. "In these unprecedented times, we believe it's our duty to help as many students and their families as possible," the company said. "By providing $200 in cash assistance, we aim to provide essential financial help to buy groceries, health supplies and other necessities to those in need."
The company is awarding the funds to select families on a rolling basis until its available funding expires. Complete the application on Scholly's website.
Institutional Relief Aid
Many universities have created institutional relief funds to help students who have been affected by the coronavirus. Schools including Purdue, Pomona and Lehigh have announced that they are in the process of establishing programs, while other schools have released applications for impacted students.
For instance, Vanderbilt University is accepting applications for its Student Hardship Relief Fund. "Due to the disruption that the COVID-19 virus has had on our students, there is a tremendous financial need to provide emergency assistance to undergraduate, graduate and professional students with demonstrated financial need," the school said in an FAQ document about the fund. The program has a $500 funding limit for eligible students.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has also set aside funding for students impacted by the COVID-19 emergency through its Carolina Student Impact Fund. "We know our students are coping with financial hardships and anxieties in these uncertain times and this fund will not only ease the burdens they face in the short term, but make a huge difference for them and their families in the long term," said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz.
If you are in need of assistance during this period, check in with your school's financial aid office to find out if any similar fund has been established to help.
Appealing the Financial Aid Package
You might have just received a financial aid package, or perhaps you're currently in college and beginning to realize your aid package won't be sufficient for the coming year. You can always approach a college to request more financial aid. You should do this as soon as possible after realizing that the financial aid package won't work for you, and you should be prepared to explain your circumstances. If the COVID-19 emergency caused a job loss or inability to work in your family, make sure you are prepared to explain the situation in depth.
Some colleges have specific financial aid appeal steps that you must follow, such as a professional judgement review or a special circumstances request. This may differ from one school to the next, but you should follow their requirements to the letter. So your first step will be to contact the financial aid office and ask whether the school has any specific processes you should follow.
If not, the student should phone the financial aid office and make the request. "Don't use terms like 'bargain' or 'negotiate,'" said The Princeton Review's Rob Franek in a College Confidential piece on the topic. "You're not really negotiating so much as you are stating the facts of why a financial aid package just won't work." Be courteous and professional, and explain your situation, offering to provide proof of how your new financial situation has impacted your family's ability to pay for college.
"Even if you've done all this, keep in mind that appeals only sometimes make a dream school a reality," Franek said. "As I always remind students and parents, appeals are never sure things. Colleges will have varying responses, and the only way to know is to ask!"
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