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Are you facing financial or other challenges?

Many students face challenges during their college careers. If you are struggling financially or experiencing food or housing insecurity, there may be state and federal assistance programs that can help them. Our office can help you determine your eligibility for these programs and navigate the application processes. 

Key questions to ask to determine if assistance programs may help:

  • Do you have income or means to support yourself/your family?
  • Do you have stable housing? Access to and resources to get food? Can you pay your utility bills?
  • If you/your parents are recently unemployed, will you have health insurance?
  • Do you have children? (if so, you may have access to special programs.)

Pennsylvania resident students can apply for assistance programs via the PA Compass website.  

Changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits 

In efforts to address food insecurity for college students, SNAP has made changes to its eligibility. You may be eligible for SNAP benefits if:

  • You qualify for a work-study program (Even if you are not participating)
  • You have an expected family contribution of $0 on your federal student aid determination. 

If you are under 22 and live at home with your parents, you will receive a benefit commensurate to your household size.

These temporary changes in SNAP eligibility will extend through the end of the COVID-19 health emergency, which is expected to last at least through April 2021. Contact our office to assist in determining eligibility. 

Broadband Internet Assistance

Students who receive Federal Pell Grants, benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or meet other income-based criteria can soon apply for and receive financial assistance for broadband internet through a new federal program.

​For assistance in applying, please contact the Student Insurance Advocate Office: 814-865-3585 or

Rental Assistance

Having trouble paying your rent or utilities? Are you in arrears with your rent?  We have good news! The Centre County Office of Adult Services has a rent relief program that you may be eligible for. Through the COVID-19 stimulus package, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was created to assist renters in Centre County with rent and utilities. Penn State students are encouraged to apply. To view eligibility criteria and apply for this assistance, please contact the Student Insurance Advocate or visit the Centre County Government website

Emergency Grants for Students

The Reach Higher Emergency Grant Program, administered by Scholarship America, is providing grants up to $1,000 to help students with living expenses or unexpected financial obligations that may interfere with their ability to continue their education. Books, tuition and fees, and required course materials are not eligible.

Eligible expenses include: 

  • Living expenses after a job loss or pay cut
  • Car repairs
  • Childcare
  • Emergency home repair
  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Essential utilities 
  • Unexpected, essential travel
  • Food (grant limited to $500)

To learn more or to apply, visit the Emergency Grant Program website.

Assistance Programs offered through the PA Department of Human Services

Out-of-State Students

Students can be referred to the Student Insurance Advocate for help with finding programs in their state by visiting the Student Insurance Advocate webpage