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Most college students are living on student loans, and/or money earned from a low-paying part-time job. In a 2018 survey by Goldrik-Rab, more than 1/3 of the more than 20,000 students who participated said they were either food insecure or had limited access to food in the preceding 30 days. In addition, 36% of those students said they were housing insecure.
What this boils down to is that college students are barely scraping by financially. At the same time, a financial crisis could cause them to have to drop out of college, severely impacting their future earnings prospects. However, with so little money coming in, many college students struggle with setting up an emergency fund to cover unforeseen situations. Fortunately, there are services available to help students are the majority of schools in the US.
Emergency Financial Aid
Someone at the school’s financial aid office will be able to provide you with information on emergency programs including loans, grants, scholarships, or vouchers. Typically, these funds assist with paying for tuition, housing, books and supplies, and transportation.
Emergency Food Funds
Some schools have campus food pantries or yearlong meal plans. In addition, food vouchers, meal plan financing, and SNAP funds may be available depending on the school. Again, the financial aid office will have information about these services.
Unfortunately, there aren’t yet good solutions to this problem. Some schools have rooms set aside, but more often, the student affairs office will point you to off-campus solutions such as shelters, room shares, sublets, or apartments.
If you haven’t already applied via the FAFSA program, you need to do that each year. In addition, emergency funds, which are separate assistance, may be available based on a change in life circumstances.
College is stressful enough. Don’t let money concerns add to the burden. Seek help and support from a variety of emergency fund programs.