Colleges Offer Aid for the Unexpected

"A recent heavy rainstorm flooded an apartment complex near Central Michigan University, displacing a number of students. Several had nowhere else to stay. To the rescue: Central Michigan's Student Emergency Fund, a financial reserve provided by private donors to help students manage unexpected emergencies such as illness, death of relatives, eviction or medical bills," University Business reports

"... Emergency financial aid programs provide critical support that in some cases may allow students to stay enrolled and continue their education, says Amelia Parnell, NASPA’s vice president for research and policy.

Following are four key action areas related to offering such a program.

1. Recognizing types of emergency aid

Offering an emergency student loan is the most common institutional response to unexpected financial needs.

At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, students can obtain a $500 short-term loan online as long as they don’t have an outstanding short-term loan already.

'We assist all students with a legitimate need,' says Pamela Fowler, executive director of the Office of Financial Aid. 'We get everything: a senior whose dad decided not to pay for schooling anymore, a nearby apartment had a fire, a pipe burst in one of our residence halls and destroyed everything, and a broken arm with no insurance.' ...

4. Spreading the word

Most colleges don’t actively market their emergency aid programs, since the available funds may not be enough to cover all needs. Some do explain on the financial aid office webpage that such assistance exists. Word of mouth, however, is the most common method of informing students about these programs.

... On some campuses, offices other than financial aid can also approve and administer emergency funds. These multiple sources of emergency aid should coordinate with each other, says Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

That communication, she adds, ensures that 'efforts are not duplicated and that students are getting the exact type of aid they need—instead of just the type of aid that happens to be administered by the office they visited.'"

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 9/25/2017

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