Spread of emergency aid and microgrants show strong results

A small amount of financial aid, even $300, can go a long way toward helping a student graduate. Student loans com Emergency aid or microgrants from colleges can be used to cover a last tuition bill or even to help pay for a financial emergency, like fixing a car or visiting a sick relative.

Microgrants aren’t new. Student loans federal But a growing number of colleges — both community colleges and four-year institutions — have data to prove that this form of institutional aid improves student retention and can even save a college money by preventing dropouts.

“I really like the idea of this and think it is definitely worth experimenting with more,” said Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a prominent financial aid researcher, who has written about the approach.


Foundations and other funders are backing emergency aid. Department of education student loans login page And two higher education associations are working with their members to encourage the practice and to explore which approaches are the most effective.

For example, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities today released a report describing microgrant programs at 10 urban, public research universities. Bankruptcy student loans The report is designed to be a how-to guide for universities to create their own grants.

Some of the featured programs in the report are aimed at students who are a semester or two away from earning a degree, said Shari Garmise, vice president for the two groups’ joint Office of Urban Initiatives.

One microgrant with a focus on students who are close to completing is Virginia Commonwealth University’s Graduation Funds program. Student loans gov phone number To qualify, students must have earned at least 103 credits and have yet to register for their final semester. Website to pay federal student loans Recipients need to have an outstanding balance with the university of less than $5,000.

The VCU grants comes with one unusual requirement — students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or less. Student loans company repayment That’s because students with better grades tend to find merit aid to continue, the report said.

University staff review financial aid packages and students’ histories to find and contact candidates for the grants. Student loans edu gov They offer eligible students up to half the money they owe, with a maximum grant of $2,500. Repayment of student loans check changes VCU also counsels students on how to find the other half of the money, such as with a small loan. Government jobs and student loans About 100 students get the grants each year, the university said.

Lauren Walizer is a senior policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), which focuses on policies that help low-income people. Government website for student loans She said interest in microgrants or emergency grants seems to be “ripening.” And it’s an intervention that can be cost-effective for colleges.

For example, Georgia State University estimates that it gets a 200 percent return on investment for its Panther Retention Grant program, which is one of the largest and most established of completion-oriented microgrants offered by a university. Student loans gov mpn Students can receive a few hundred dollars up to $2,000 through the program if they demonstrate unmet need, prove they are on track to graduate, have been dropped or are in danger of being dropped and owe a modest amount in tuition and fees.

“We were holding on to more students who weren’t dropping out but instead were paying bills and providing tuition and fees that helped our university get through a tough financial time,” he said, according to the report.

Garmise said the land-grant association will soon introduce $50,000 awards to nine of its member institutions, with a goal of helping those universities create their own microgrant programs. Repayment of student loans The Lumina Foundation and the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation are funding those awards and the report.

“Now we’re starting to ask the question of how to use financial aid to get students out of institutions, to graduation,” she said, rather than just using aid on the front end of students’ enrollment.

The use of data analytics is making it easier for colleges to administer the grants, Garmise said. Site to pay federal student loans Institutions use the data to identify possible recipients, both by looking for students who are on track academically and who have unmet need.

There’s typically a big role for student affairs offices in running microgrants or emergency grants. Pay government student loans That’s because student affairs staff members are most likely to be able to identify students who need the aid.

NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is conducting a study of the landscape for emergency grants, said Amelia Parnell, the group’s vice president for research and policy. Government student loans canada Parnell said there is a broad range of grants that fall under the umbrella of emergency aid. Ed student loans (The Wisconsin HOPE Lab and Scholarship America last year used data and surveys to produce a report on emergency aid and how institutions are using it.)

The less restricted version typically is for students to use for a financial emergency, she said, like buying a plane ticket to visit a sick family member. Direct student loan processing center Other programs, however, include contracts that recipients must sign, and requirements like seeing an adviser or taking a financial literacy course.

Emergency aid also can be either proactive or reactive. Canada student loans Some universities, like those featured in the APLU report, tend to find and track down recipients themselves. Government student loans south africa Others respond to requests from students, which are often received by student affairs offices.

Verification can be tricky in the reactive version. Student loans company apply For example, Parnell cites a hypothetical situation of a student asking for help to cover a lease for an off-campus apartment, but where the lease isn’t in the student’s name.

Some colleges have gotten creative about how to identify recipients for microgrants. Government loans student Kingsborough Community College, for example, last year began distributing an app to all incoming students that tells them about forms of aid available on campus. Paying off student loans Students learn about emergency aid with the app, said Parnell, with more than 900 receiving awards of $500 to $1,000.

“Both the dollars and the psychological impact of the support from the institution in a time of crisis are likely to make a difference,” Baum wrote in a 2014 paper she co-authored.

Parnell agreed, saying emergency aid has been proven to have a “significant effect” in helping students graduate. Repaying student loans She said NASPA’s ongoing survey found that many colleges have had such programs in place for three years, and some are looking to increase the scale of those programs.

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