Students suddenly struggling to pay tuition beyond their scholarships and loans can try to increase their financial aid packages with help from a free online service called SwiftStudent.
The platform launched Wednesday to help college students cope with the economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported.
SwiftStudent—a partnership between the nonprofit Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation and FormSwift—will guide students through the financial aid appeal process. It provides documents and templates to help students send a request to their school’s financial aid office, according to The Post.
“Students are going to be receiving financial aid offers from schools based on pre-pandemic data,” Abigail Seldin, CEO of the Seldin / Haring-Smith Foundation, told The Post. “It’s hard to imagine that data reflect their current financial situation.”
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The CARES Act coronavirus stimulus package includes $6 billion colleges and universities can use immediately to provide emergency assistance to students, University Business reported.
Students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak can use the funds on course materials, technology, food, housing, healthcare and child care.
A growing number of colleges and universities are for the first time offering scholarships and tuition discounts to financially-strapped students who want to take summer courses, UB reported.
“If students are able to take two classes this summer, it can make a difference both financially and mentally,” Jimmy Jung, vice president of enrollment management at the University of Houston-Downtown, said in a news release. “This financial support can allow them to focus on their studies and help ease the stress caused by not working or other issues created by the pandemic.”
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Some institutions are setting up their own emergency funds. For example, several departments at Western Illinois University (WIU) have teamed up to provide assistance for housing, food, technology and other basic needs.
The WIU Foundation, the university’s scholarship office, the office of financial aid, and the office of the president are offering grants that students won’t need to repay.
“COVID-19 has created additional challenges for many of our students,” WIU Interim President Martin Abraham said in a news release. “We are trying to do all we can to ease the added stresses our students may be facing.”
UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.