Emergency Student Loans and How to Get ThemAugust 2, 2021
As a college student, you are likely on a tight budget. A single emergency — your car breaks down, childcare falls through, or your hours are cut at work — can completely derail your plans and cause you to have to pause your education.
Emergency student loans are designed to help you pay for those unexpected expenses so you can stay in school and complete your degree. Here’s how they work and how to find them.
What Are Emergency Loans?
Your tuition bill is due but your federal loans aren’t disbursed yet. The car you use to get to class breaks down. Your professor assigns pricey textbooks that cost more than you budgeted. Financial emergencies can come in many forms, and emergency student loans may help to keep you on track in spite of unexpected circumstances.
If you’re like many students, your finances are already stretched thin. A Trellis Company survey found that 25% of four-year college students ran out of money five or more times in the prior year.
If an unexpected expense pops up, emergency loans for students can help you cover the expenses and stay in school.
Emergency student loans are relatively small loans — usually $1,000 or less — with short repayment terms. While traditional student loans have repayment terms as long as 20 years, emergency loans typically have to be repaid within a few weeks or months.
Emergency student loans are usually no-cosigner loans, and they can have low interest rates. However, some lenders charge no interest at all as long as the loan is repaid on time.
Where to Get Emergency Student Loans and Grants
If you need money quickly to pay for your school-required expenses, living costs, or other fees, you can find emergency aid through several sources:
1. Contact Your School’s Financial Aid Office
If your student loans are delayed or a sudden expense comes up, contact your school’s financial aid office. The financial aid representative may have solutions, such as:
- Advancing you a portion of your loans
- Small grants for students with financial need
- School-issued emergency loans
Some colleges and universities have their own funds set aside for emergency student loans. For example:
- Emory University: At Emory University, students in the Laney Graduate School can receive an emergency loan as large as $1,000. The loans must be repaid within 89 days, and they are interest-free as long as the loan is repaid during that term.
- University of Houston: The University of Houston has an emergency loan program students can use for expenses of $500 or less. The loans do not accrue interest, but the loans have to be repaid within 45 days if the loan is taken out during the spring and fall semesters. In the summer, the loans must be repaid within 30 days.
2. Apply for a Federal Emergency Grant
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government expanded relief measures for college students. Through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Act, the government provides funds to schools so they could issue students emergency financial aid grants to individuals affected by the pandemic.
The grants could be used to pay for expenses students incurred due to campus operations being interrupted. For example, students can use the funds for housing, food, course materials, and technology expenses.
Talk to your department of financial aid or department of student housing to see if you qualify for a federal emergency grant.
3. Search for Help on the Federal Government’s Database
If you’re looking for federal and state assistance programs, you can use the government’s database at Benefits.gov to search by category or location. You can find resources that may help you with subsidized child care, housing, food, and emergency cash relief.
4. Call 2-1-1
The 2-1-1 helpline and website is run by United Way Worldwide. When you call, text, or email 2-1-1, a representative can connect you to local community resources and nonprofits that provide financial assistance to students in need.
For example, the 2-1-1 center in Florida may connect Seminole State College students to Destination Graduation. Run by the local United Way chapter, Destination Graduation is a program that gives students emergency financial assistance for unforeseen expenses that could hurt their chances of graduating on time.
Other Ways to Get Money
If you’ve tried to get emergency loans for students from your college, area nonprofits, and government agencies, but still need help, another option is to apply for federal or private student loans.
Federal loans don’t require credit checks for undergraduate borrowers, and you can use the money you receive for your tuition as well as living expenses. The standard repayment term on federal loans is 10 years, but some borrowers can qualify for income-driven repayment plans that offer terms as long as 25 years.
Another option is to apply for private student loans. Unlike federal loans, which have borrower limits for undergraduate students, private lenders usually allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance. Depending on the lender, you may be able to take advantage of quick loan disbursement and use the money to pay for your emergency expenses.
If you decide to apply with a private lender for emergency student loans, you can get a quote without affecting your credit score with ELFI’s Find My Rate tool.*