We’ve compiled these COVID-19 resources and links to help college students navigate some of the challenges and uncertainty they are experiencing. We have sorted the information by topic area so click on the links below to get started. Check back often as we are updating the guide regularly. This guide has been compiled by Beyond 12 and MyCoach staff. Find out more about Beyond 12 here.
Colleges—and most of the people who work at colleges—want to help college students. If you are struggling, your college might be able to help—whether or not you live on campus.
They can’t help unless they know about your situation—so you need to take charge of making them aware of it!
Asking for help is all about the “X degrees of separation” principle. It is perfectly normal and OK if you don’t know who the right person is to ask your questions to. The point is to find a person who can point you toward another person who might know (who then might point you toward another person, etc.)—or find an advocate who will go find the answer for you.
Speak out if a policy is creating hardship for you! This whole pandemic situation is new for everyone. Colleges are setting policies, but they may not be the right policies, or they may need to be making exceptions.
Who and how to ask
Start with your EOP, Housing/Residential Life, or Financial Aid office.
If your school doesn’t have these offices, or if you’re not getting useful answers, start asking around. The situation is very confusing for everyone, but you will be able to find answers. Remember: you don’t need to find the exact person who can directly solve your problem; you just need to find a helpful person who understands the system—or even someone who can refer you to another person who understands the system. Try asking your professors—or anyone you’ve interacted with.
Here are some talking points/ways to approach people:
As needed, introduce yourself to the person. The professor of your current 18-person writing class will probably remember you! But the helpful front desk person in the Financial Aid office will need more background/context.
It’s okay to ask someone who may not remember you. Just convey to them why you are asking them (for example, “You were really helpful when I had a problem with X last fall.”)
Tell them that you’re really concerned about your situation because ________ (you don’t know where you’ll go if you have to move off campus, your financial need has gotten a lot more urgent, whatever your concerns are.)
You don’t have to live on campus, either. You can seek advocacy about housing, food, etc. from your school; often there are people in the administration who are familiar with local housing options and aid.
Don’t be afraid to say directly, “I need to find help.”
Ask them if they know how you can address your hardship, or if they can help connect you with someone who could help point you in the right direction (i.e. maybe they don’t have the answer or know the exact person, but they talked to an administrator recently who seemed to be informed).
How your campus is affected
Most U.S. colleges have switched to online/remote teaching, some for the rest of the year. And there’s no end in sight.
On-campus housing and food:
If your school’s asking you to move off campus and you don’t know exactly where you’d move to, it’s okay to ask if you can stay. There are many international students, students who can’t afford to travel home, and others for whom moving out would be a major hardship. Virtually all schools have drastically reduced student services (e.g. dining halls), but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave.
Making you move out might be considered an eviction and legally require certain actions and advance notice.
If your school asks why you need to stay on campus and you don’t feel safe telling them why, tell them that. There may be staff/admins authorized to allow you to stay without you having to say why.
You may also have access to food services even if your school says that campus dining services aren’t available. Some colleges, for example, are distributing boxed meals. If you depend on your college for meals, let them know. They want you to stay safe and they don’t want to jeopardize your food security!
Your college classes:
Almost all colleges are transitioning to 100% online classes. That’s harder than it seems—for everyone.
Many faculty are learning how to teach online and are as confused as you are. Don’t be shy: reach out and ask what’s going on, let them know if you’re having problems, etc.
You may have difficulty accessing class material online. Colleges know that’s an issue. If you tell them it’s an issue for you, they can help you solve it.
School may change policies: academic term dates, grading options (like switching to Pass/No Pass), when/whether to hold finals, etc. Watch for updates from your college and each prof.
Between keeping up with the news and your life being upended, it’s an incredibly stressful and distracting time to be a college student. Time to put your best time management skills to the test—and learn some new ones.
Set up your schedule as if you’re still going to classes, with time for each class meeting and time for homework
Identify a consistent workspace and make it your own
Remember that many good public study spaces aren’t available
Set boundaries with family (and with yourself!)
Communicate your study schedule with them
Use earbuds—even without music, they tell other people you’re not so available
Use online study sessions to communicate to others that it’s schoolwork time
If you can, create online study groups/buddy systems. Keep each other accountable by checking in before/after study sessions. Or hop on a video chat, hit mute, and just keep each other company. It also helps keep you mentally healthy!
Check in regularly with each class and read all of the instructions carefully. Your professors are working hard to keep you up to date!
Resources: if you are experiencing barriers to your academic success because of the pandemic, get in touch with someone at your college. See the section above on asking for help. Here are some other easier starting points:
If you need books or other class materials:
Start by asking your prof about them. Many professors are arranging for students’ access to the stuff they need.
Project MUSE is offering free book and journal content; visit this page for a list of publishers and other info.
Contact your college’s library. They have super-special databases and help you find not just stuff the library owns but also where you can access free versions of other readings you might need.
The FCC is asking broadband service providers, for at least the next 60 days, to (1) make wifi hotspots free and accessible, (2) not charge late fees, and (3) not disconnect customers who don’t pay their bill.
If you need lots of data and your mobile carrier isn’t offering it, consider switching to a smaller pay-in-advance carrier. Simple Mobile and Mint Mobile, both on the T-Mobile network, are currently offering unlimited data (and calling/texting) for $15-25/month.
COVID-19 has affected financial aid. Get updates at the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Coronavirus info page. Some important takeaways:
Work-study students may be eligible to be paid even if they’re unable to do their work-study jobs
Students’ financial need may increase if students or family are unable to earn their usual income
For either of these situations, check with your school’s financial aid office
For either of the above situations—or if you have other questions about your financial aid—check with your school’s financial aid office
The COVID-19 relief act, a.k.a. the CARES Act, includes student loan forbearance between March 13 and September 30, 2020. That means that if you have certain kinds of student loans, you do not have to make payments during that period. Read more about it at the link above, or contact your loan servicer or financial aid office to find out more.
Ask your college about additional financial aid
The CARES Act also provides grants (= free money) to college students. This and other financial assistance are disbursed through your school’s financial aid office—and you won’t get it unless you ask for it! Move as quickly as possible because funds may run out. To help you out, here’s the optimal sequence of approaches to contacting them (i.e., start with #1; if that option isn’t available, try #2, and so on):
Start at your school’s financial aid office website. Many schools have COVID-specific info and even application forms on their sites already.
Check your student portal for info.
Not getting the info you need online? Next up: call them on the phone.
Send the financial aid office an email.
Formswift has a template for requesting additional Emergency Aid. (The description may be confusing because some is customized to COVID-19 response and some isn’t. Just roll with it and request the aid!)
If you compose an email, make sure to include your name, student ID number, email, and phone number, and ask them what the next steps are for students seeking additional financial aid.
If the financial aid office is closed or if you can’t reach them in other ways (or aren’t getting a response to communications you’ve sent, try DMing the office’s or college’s (verified) social media pages. It’s an unconventional approach, but sometimes social media is monitored more “in real time” than office emails.
There are a lot of resources to help people pay for housing in this difficult time—and more are surfacing all the time. How you access those resources depends on your situation. Some key things to look for:
The COVID-19 federal stimulus package, CARES, has several provisions to help with housing.
Many states have instituted eviction freezes for 1-3 months, and they may be extending them as the extent of the pandemic becomes clearer.
The National Apartment Association has issued a statement urging landlords and tenants to work together to find ways to ensure that residents have “a secure home.”
(General tip: especially because the economy has affected the housing market, banks, landlords, etc. are more flexible than usual about accommodating people’s need to pay less rent/mortgage or defer payments. It is definitely worth checking what options are available to you and requesting the maximum amount of flexibility.)
Many utilities are suspending disconnects for customers who don’t pay their bill.
Your local health department. FInd yours at this Directory of Local Health Departments. (Searching will provide your local health department’s main contact/website; you may have to click through to find COVID-19-specific info.)
Be mindful where you are getting your information and always check your sources. Remember, IG is not always the best place for news!
Edquity App helps find local resources for students (housing, food, transportation, finances, etc.)