COVID-19 and Your Financial Aid: What to do if you need more help

The coronavirus pandemic has forced American students to leave campus, take classes online, drop courses, and in some cases, lose their jobs due to nationwide closures.

With restaurants, theaters, hotels, and bars closing, many students are in dire need of extra support as they lose their source of income. The Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA®) decisions for the 2020-2021 school year have already been made. Still, as students return to school in the fall, their financial situation could be vastly different due to the impact of coronavirus.

The COVID-19 situation doesn’t only impact aid for the next school year; some students are seeing immediate financial hardship due to school closures and having to drop classes that can’t be taken online. All of this significantly affects our students, and it can be challenging to know where to turn or how to plan for the future when dealing with this uncertainty. 

If you’re a student in a situation where you have lost your job, your income has been limited, or you’ve had to drop classes or move off-campus, there are financial aid options available to you.

Appeal for More Financial Aid

If you’re returning to school in the fall, and already have your financial aid package, it might not be enough to cover the current loss of income you’re experiencing.

If that’s the case, you should consider appealing for more aid. Aid appeal is a process students go through to appeal their initial financial aid offer and ask for more money from their college or university.

Students do have to meet eligibility criteria to file for aid appeal, but a significant loss of income is one of them. If you’ve experienced issues with your income, you can follow FRANK’s Aid Appeal Guide to begin the appeal process. This guide walks you through the steps it takes to file for aid appeal, the documents you need, and where to send your information. 

FRANK offers aid appeal services for students that meet the qualifying factors. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us. 

While winning your aid appeal case is not guaranteed, many students who meet the eligibility requirements often do see an increase in financial aid from their college.

Apply for Student Loan Deferment or Forbearance

If you experience loss of income or a difficult financial situation due to coronavirus, your first step should be to apply for deferment or forbearance to suspend your student loan payments temporarily. You’ll need to talk to your loan servicer directly to learn what your options are and qualify for either program.

It is important to remember that your interest will continue to accrue during this period, so if you have the ability to make interest-based payments, you should do your best to make them.

These are helpful guides when deciding what to file for:

Trouble With Living Necessities After Campus Closure

With campus closures and job loss, some students are struggling to find a place to live and put food on the table. There may be help coming from the government to support students at this difficult time.

On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act. The act includes $1.2 billion in emergency funding in the form of financial aid to “address basic needs created by unexpected college closures and COVID-19 related disruptions.” 

The act is set to cover everything, including food, housing, child care, and even health insurance/care. You can learn more about what the proposed act would entail here.

Keep in mind that things are changing rapidly when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers are working to push through opportunities to assist where it is needed most. 

Continue to check the StudentAid.gov website to see if there are new ways to get financial aid to help you with your necessities. 

Your College or University

Additionally, if you are struggling with any of the major issues above, reach out to your school’s financial aid office directly and see how they are helping their students during this time.

Many schools are creating ways, whether through funding or housing, to help their most vulnerable students. 

Continue to Check Financial Aid Eligibility

Depending on whether your school closed for the year or moved to online classes, there may be an impact on your federal financial aid. Additionally, dropping classes due to the transition to online education (such as clinical or labs that can’t be taken online), could also affect your financial aid, as you may drop below the credit hour requirement

If you are confused about what your school closure or class adjustments mean for your financial aid, you should immediately contact your college or university financial aid office. 

In most cases, students will be eligible to keep their financial aid, but if you have to drop classes, your aid may be reduced. So, it’s essential to check with your school to you know where you stand.

With the ever-changing coronavirus situation, FRANK is closely monitoring what this all means for students impacted financially. We will continue to update this post and provide you with more information as soon as it is made available. 

If you have any questions about FAFSA® and federal aid in light of your changing situation, reach out to us at support@withfrank.org.