College students who left their campuses in droves as stay-at-home orders rolled in were often met with a whole new financial reality, one marked by travel costs, unused apartments and lost jobs. Here are three ways those students can find some help.
Get a refund from your school. Those who had to move out of dorms early will likely get a refund for room and board — the coronavirus relief act allocated money to colleges for this purpose. You can expect a prorated amount. Your financial-aid office will have information on how to receive a refund. The funds you get back can be used to pay for any education-, travel- or living-related expenses you have incurred as a result.
But if your room and board was paid through a student loan and you don’t need the refund to make ends meet, consider returning it.
Seek emergency aid from your college. The Department of Education is sending billions of dollars to colleges through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the coronavirus relief act. The grants can be used to pay for education-related technology and supplies, housing, food, child care and health care, the Education Department said.
So far about half of eligible schools have applied to receive the grant funding. You are eligible to receive an emergency grant whether or not you filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s unclear if schools will require the FAFSA from those who didn’t complete it previously in order to receive the aid.
Your school may also have its own emergency fund established. These programs typically require students to apply.
Update your FAFSA form.
Your family’s finances may have looked a lot different when you submitted the FAFSA. But the form you submitted isn’t permanent; you can make changes and receive aid retroactively, even if you already received your financial-aid award.
To update the information reported, log in to FAFSA.gov and submit changes under “Make FAFSA Corrections.” Or you can contact your school’s financial-aid office and ask them to make changes for you. The deadline to make updates is June 30 after the school year you need aid. For the 2019-20 school year, that’s June 30, 2020.
If you are thinking about how you are going to pay for school next year and you already received a financial aid award, you can file an appeal. Make sure to include a specific amount you are asking for and reasoning for your request in your appeal.
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