When students experience personal crisis or an emergency situation, they may be overwhelmed by their circumstances. Recognizing that unforeseen financial emergencies may occur for students, Penn State has established an emergency fund to help meet the immediate needs of students experiencing crisis situations. When it is determined that a student is experiencing a specific financial need because of a single traumatic event or an on-going crisis, the Student Emergency Fund Program can provide timely support to assist the student.
Each student's circumstances are carefully considered, and staff are mindful of the sensitivity of each situation and that the student may need multiple sources of support including support from other offices on campus. All information shared by a student requesting emergency funding support is confidential. Information about the student or their circumstances will only be shared with third parties who have a legitimate need to be informed of the student's situation and only at the request or explicit permission of the student seeking emergency funding support.
Emergency funding is designed to provide temporary, short-term, financial assistance to students who are managing demanding academic requirements while struggling with debilitating financial circumstances. Provided in the form of one-time awards (typically not exceeding $1,000), emergency funding is not intended to provide ongoing relief for recurring expenses, and these awards are not loans that students are expected to repay. However, awards from these funds may impact the amount of aid that a student may receive from other sources. Those who are seeking temporary emergency funding are encouraged to consult with the Office of Student Aid, their academic college, or other providers of financial resources prior to accepting an award to determine its impact, if any, on their financial aid.
Potential reasons for awarding emergency funding include, but are not limited to:
- To minimize immediate needs of students caused by acute financial stress
- Support for temporary housing, and/or other essential needs such as food, due to displacement by fire or other unforeseen environmental hazard
- Support shelter for a student in a dangerous situation due to acts of violence or other victimization
- To fund travel or transportation of a student or a student's belongings home due to family emergency, crisis, or death
- To provide for short term financial assistance due to unusual or unforeseen medical expenses
Specific examples of health-related emergencies that may apply are as follows:
- Emergency medical expenses such as fees and costs associated with emergency room visits, co-pays, or University Health Services visits for injury or illness;
- Dental, physical, or mental health emergencies for the student or in some circumstances, for immediate family members who live with the student (spouse/partner, son, daughter or other verifiable dependent); and
- Medication /prescription drug expenses and health-related equipment.
The list above is not exhaustive for all circumstances for which a student may seek temporary, one-time assistance. Each request for assistance will be evaluated, and awards provided when appropriate and within the scope of this fund.
Considering the sensitivity of each situation, where students' may be in need of multiple means of support, all information shared by a student requesting emergency funding support is confidential. Information about the student or their circumstances will only be shared with third parties who have a legitimate need to be informed of the student's information, positioned to help the student, and only at the explicit request or permission of the student seeking emergency funding support.
Awards from the Student Emergency Program may impact the amount of aid that a student may receive from other sources. Those who are seeking temporary emergency funding are encouraged to consult with the Office of Student Aid, their academic college, or other providers of financial resources prior to accepting an award to determine its impact, if any, on their financial aid.
A student from any Penn State campus location is eligible to apply for emergency funds through the Student Emergency Funds Program. Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrate financial hardship due to emergency, accident, illness, or other unforeseen event
- Be currently enrolled full-time in an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree-seeking program (see Note 1 below)
- Consider (or have exhausted) alternative funding options for assistance. These may include emergency loans through academic departments, student aid, or other university sources and
- Meet with the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs or the Associate Director for Student and Family Services at University Park or the Chief Student Affairs Officer at the campus to discuss their circumstances and if applicable, to provide supporting documentation. (see Note 2 below)
Accessing the Student Emergency Funds
Students, or staff on behalf of students, may seek information concerning these funds or request financial support by contacting Joe Puzycki, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, 130 Boucke Building, or by calling the Family Emergency and Support Line at: 814-863-2020 or the main office line at: 814-863-4926. Students from a campus other than University Park would contact the chief student affairs officer at that campus.
Each student who requests an emergency fund award will meet with the Assistant Vice President or the Associate Director for Student and Family Services at University Park or the Chief Student Affairs Officer at the campus to discuss the reasons for the emergency funding request. Final decisions to grant or deny requests are made by the Assistant Vice President at University Park.
Processing of any distribution of the Student Emergency Fund is coordinated by the Senior Director, Union and Student Activities, upon request by the Assistant Vice President. These funds are held in the Associated Student Activities (ASA) account and the Senior Director serves as the Treasurer. If funds are awarded, notification of the award must be made by the Senior Director to the Student Affairs Financial Officer for federal tax purposes under federal law.
Decisions concerning distribution of the Student Emergency Funds
The student submitting the request, or others on the student's behalf, will meet with the Assistant Vice President or Associate Director at University Park or the chief student affairs officer at their campus to discuss their situation and request for emergency funding. Each request is reviewed individually. Many factors will be considered in making a decision to approve or deny a request. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- The nature and urgency of the student's emergency
- The totality of the student's hardships
- Other resources or support that the student may or may not have available to them
- The specific and immediate impacts the emergency may be having on the student's living and academic circumstances; and,
- Other information provided by third parties, such as advocates or advisors, that may help to illuminate and clarify the student's situation in developing appropriate rationale for decisions.
In some circumstances, the Assistant Vice President may consult with the Vice President for Student Affairs, or others, while reviewing a request. After the request is reviewed, the student will be contacted regarding the decision. The Assistant Vice President may fully support, partially support, or deny the request.
Additionally, there may be times when a student crisis situation has occurred but no funding request has been submitted. The Assistant Vice President may determine that it would best serve the interests of the University and the student to independently contact the student to offer assistance. In these instances, the Assistant Vice President will contact the student to offer such support.
Awards from this fund will not cover costs associated with injuries suffered as the result of a work-related accident on campus or on University property. Injuries suffered on University property or in the course of employment at Penn State University will be referred to Penn State Office of Human Resources and/or the Risk Management Department, Office of the Corporate Controller.
Information a student may be asked to submit
All information shared by students requesting emergency funding support is confidential. Information about the student or their circumstances will only be shared with third parties who have a legitimate need to be informed and only at the request or explicit permission of the student seeking emergency funding support. When a student seeks support through the Student Emergency Funds Program, they may be asked to submit the following:
- A brief written statement explaining the emergency situation or unusual or unforeseen expenses
- A list of specific expenses to be covered by the award and the student's total cost incurred because of the emergency; and
- An explanation of their financial situation including sources of income and other available funding
Award amounts and disbursement
Awards will not typically exceed $1,000, except in extraordinary circumstances as determined by the Assistant Vice President. In most cases, funds will be disbursed to the student in the form of reimbursement. Once documentation has been received processing awards will typically take three to five business days, if not sooner. In cases involving health care and treatment by University Health Services, funds to cover medical expenses will be directly transferred to University Health Services on the student's behalf.
Additional Resources for Students
The resources listed below may also provide temporary, short-term, financial or other assistance to students.
Contact: Jill Ivicic, Student Aid Coordinator
University Scholarships/Office of Student Aid
314 Shields Bldg, University Park, PA 16802
The Student Aid student emergency fund is actually three separate funds which are all donor driven. The intent of the funds is to aid students in emergency situations, much like the examples in Student Affairs. All awarded funds to students are awarded through the student's bursar account or Student Aid may pay a vendor directly with documentation from the student.
DISSA Emergency Loans for International Students
Primary Contact: the international student's adviser
Secondary Contact: Masume Assaf, Director, International Student Advising
410 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802
Provides emergency loans to international students who experience unforeseen delays in expected funds or necessary expenses such as medical bills.
Fund for Adult Continuing Education Support (FACES)
Contact: email@example.com or call 814-865-3443 for further information.
The Fund for Adult Continuing Education Support (FACES) is supported by Continuing Education employees and former and current students who are dedicated to helping adult learners in Continuing Education programs succeed through supplemental financial support for books, tuition, or other emergency needs.
The American Red Cross can provide assistance after a natural disaster, such as a fire. They will provide student assistance when there is an emergency need. Support assistance includes providing material items and may include feeding, shelter, clean-up kits, comfort kits and financial assistance through client assistance cards (CAC).