Higher Education Professionals Discuss Resources for Advancing Retention in College with Emergency Aid

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter

In recent years it has become increasingly prevalent for colleges and universities to administer emergency aid to students in need, but challenges remain.

In the latest session of NASFAA’s 2020 Summer Training Series, a group of higher education policy experts provided details on how institutions can direct financial support to students, highlighted emergency aid strategies, and covered ways schools can strengthen and sustain their emergency aid efforts.

Omari Burnside, assistant vice president for strategy and practice at NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, gave an overview of how emergency aid has changed in recent years and defined the parameters with which funding is allocated.

One of the areas that institutions have recognized additional needs for students includes unforeseen child care and health care costs. While programs have been developed to support those efforts, additional assistance is needed. Specifically, Burnside cited that students are increasingly facing emergencies that are not visible, like costs related to prescription drugs, while others are faced with food insecurity.

“When we talk about emergency aid there is the critical partnership that is needed with the financial aid office,” Burnside said. “This is one of the reasons why we have been working with NASFAA on developing resources to help to bridge the connection to financial aid to others that are supporting the emergency efforts at an institution.”

As students continue to deal with the fallout of the novel coronavirus, Congress is currently considering another aid package that could include funding for additional student emergency aid.

Jill Desjean, policy analyst at NASFAA said that in the next aid package the higher education community is requesting $46.6 billion and Congress could move on some sort of funding to provide additional emergency aid to students within the next few weeks.

“Emergency aid is best used when a quick, small amount of money will solve the student’s problem,” Desjean said. “The idea really is just to get you thinking about not just how to get money quickly into the students hands — which is a priority — but also how to get the student the help that they need to help them to succeed through the end of their studies, and not just through the end of the week, or the month, or even the academic year.”


Publication Date: 7/9/2020

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