The rising price of a college education often leaves students strapped for cash and without the financial resources necessary to succeed in school and cover their basic needs, such as housing and food. These students are living on the edge, and a financial emergency can derail their dreams of obtaining college degrees. The contemporary financial aid system may not be nimble enough to respond to the nature or urgency of a student’s financial emergency. Instead, some colleges and universities are providing students quick infusions of money through emergency aid programs. Such programs are springing up at schools across the country, but little information is available about their prevalence, practices, or effectiveness at helping students stay in school.
In this report, researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab use data from surveys and interviews conducted with emergency aid program administrators around the country in order to provide details on the current landscape of emergency aid.