Scaling Effective Emergency Aid Practices

Scaling Effective Emergency Aid Practices


Hope Center Launches Initiative to Scale Effective Emergency Aid Practices to Support #RealCollege Students

As it begins its third year, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice is launching a new national initiative focused on scaling effective and equitable emergency aid practices. Emergency aid is an increasingly critical support for #RealCollege students, as they come to college with little financial privilege and often attend under-funded institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic makes emergency aid even more critical, as students are facing shortfalls in earned income, additional costs associated with remote learning (e.g. internet service), and are excluded from many of the pandemic support programs being offered to other Americans.

This three-part initiative draws on the Hope Center’s expertise in rigorous applied research, practice, and policy. The team will conduct a national study of current emergency aid practices and student experiences, including CARES Act implementation, support colleges and universities as they refine their practices, and advance state and federal legislation. This effort builds on the Hope Center’s extensive work on students’ basic needs and financial aid design and delivery, and is grounded in evidence of program under-utilization:

  • Even before the pandemic, many students with need did not access emergency aid. The Fall 2019 #RealCollege survey found that less than 10% of students facing food and/or housing insecurity had accessed emergency aid.
  • During the initial months of the pandemic that situation had not much improved. The Spring 2020 Pandemic survey found that just 15% of students experiencing basic needs insecurity applied for emergency aid. One in three students did not know that emergency aid existed on their campus, and 32% thought emergency aid was unavailable to them.