Senator says one Unexpected Event—a Sudden Death in the Family, the Loss of a Job—can Lead a Student to Drop out of School

WASHINGTON, D.C. [08/25/2020]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) recently introduced legislation to help college students without a financial safety net get through unanticipated emergencies that too often cause students to drop out of college. Under The Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act, students could receive emergency grants through their campus. Unlike a student loan, these grants would not need to be repaid.

Sen. Smith says that when millions of college students faced unexpected costs caused by the pandemic, Congress provided funding for emergency grants to make sure students had the resources they needed to stay enrolled and continue their studies. But the fact of the matter is that students face emergencies all the time, not just during a pandemic. And for many students, one unexpected event—a sudden death in the family, the loss of housing or a job, a car breaking down—can lead to them to drop out of school. Data shows this especially impacts students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, low-income students and Pell Grant recipients.

“The skyrocketing cost of college is an enormous challenge for students in Minnesota and across the country,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “Many students take on student loan debt and a job—or multiple jobs—to help pay for their education. My emergency grant program would provide students with the financial resources they need to get through an unanticipated situation. It's an idea that works--evidence shows this kind of one-time funding assistance has big impacts on helping students stay in school and on track to graduate. If Congress cares about supporting students, then it should move this bill forward.”

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

This legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). 

You can access a summary of the legislation here.

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