Legislation Would Help Students Withstand Unexpected Costs, Which Often Cause Vulnerable Students to Drop Out

WASHINGTON [3.11.22] – Yesterday, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) reintroduced legislation to ensure college students are able to stay enrolled in school in the face of unexpected emergencies.

For many students, paying for college requires carefully balancing student loan debts, jobs, and studies, which can be easily derailed by an unexpected costly event. The Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act would provide financial stability for students struggling to manage a sudden death in the family, car repair, medical bill or any number of financial emergencies that too often force students to drop out of school.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

“The cost of college is a precarious balancing act for many students, and that’s when everything is going ‘right,’” said Senator Smith. “This bill would help provide financial stability for students facing a death in the family, steep medical bill, or any number of unexpected emergencies that too often force them to drop out of school.”

“Every American deserves the opportunity to pursue higher education. But for far too many students, an unexpected financial emergency can make it difficult for them to stay enrolled in school,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will give students the financial security they need to weather these unanticipated emergency costs and continue advancing their education.”

“Too often, students pursuing education and training beyond high school are forced to choose between continuing their education and paying for unexpected financial needs,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation would provide support for students who need that financial assistance when emergencies arise and keep them on the path to earning their degree. It ensures that we are investing in the education of American students and investing in the future of the American workforce.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced campuses to close and millions or college students faced unexpected costs, Congress provided funding for institutions of high education to provide emergency grants in order to make sure students had the resources they needed to stay enrolled. Yet college students face emergencies all the time, not just during the pandemic, and the consequences of these disruptions are significant. Data shows these events are particularly disruptive for Black, Latino, Native, and low-income students. 

The Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act would authorize a grant program for institutions of higher education to provide emergency grants to college students to help them get through unanticipated emergencies. These grants would be administered by their campus and unlike a student loan, would not need to be repaid.

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