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For many College students around the country, a financial emergency can be right around the corner. Since most are studying full-time, that leaves little room in your schedule to work long hours. As a result, an unexpected increase in rent, medical emergency, or or loss of a job which may cause you to
leave school without earning a credential. For students who have few resources to fall back on, not having the money to fill up the gas tank or replace a stolen bicycle can mean the difference between getting to class and dropping out.


If you’re in that situation, there are various resources that can help you out.

Go to your college’s student affairs office

About three-quarters of colleges and universities offer some kind of help, according to a 2016 survey of emergency college aid programs by the professional association NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

While it differs between each office, often the emergency financial aid provided can be a low interest rate student loan without a credit check, no cosigner student loans, or grants.

Emergency aid is only available in extreme circumstances, and students will be expected to meet stringent criteria in order qualify. Typically, applicants must be full-time students, with an acceptable minimum GPA. Students applying for emergency aid will also be required to provide adequate documentation of the crisis leading to their need for emergency funds.

Students considering emergency financial aid should understand that these programs offer limited help. They are only a stop-gap in a crisis, not a secondary form of college funding.

For example, The University of California-Berkeley supports a number of Emergency Loans for both undergraduate and graduate students. These short term loans are available to students in good standing who are faced with sudden, and unforeseen, financial need. Students who meet the stringent eligibility requirements may receive between $775 and $1300 in emergency funds. Loans are interest free, and are due within 60 days of disbursement.

Many colleges and universities will also offer tuition waivers and fee deferments for students who face an unexpected financial crisis. Students are encouraged to contact their college’s office of financial aid for details on programs which may benefit them in an emergency situation.

When you’re there, you should note the terms of the loan very carefully. The key factors to note are:

  • Borrowing limit: These emergency student loans typically come with limits on how much you can borrow. For instance, Georgia Tech offers institutional emergency loans of up to $1,500.
  • Repayment period: As emergency aid, these loans are usually intended to provide quick cash to students in need, and they require fast repayment as well. California Polytechnic State University’s emergency student loans, for example, require full repayment within 90 days.
  • Interest rate: Some emergency student loans are interest-free, while others are not. For example, Duke University offers an emergency loan that has a 3.5% interest rate.
  • Service charge: Emergency student loans often carry a small processing or service charge, typically a percentage of the loan amount or a small flat fee. For example, the University of Nevada charges a $20 service fee for each emergency loan.

Emergency tuition assistance

Go to your school’s financial aid or student affairs office to ask about emergency programs, which could include emergency grants for students, completion scholarships, emergency student loans or vouchers. Usually this money can pay for tuition, housing, books, supplies and transportation.

Emergency student food aid

If you don’t have consistent access to food, contact your school’s student affairs office to learn about programs such as food vouchers, scholarships, free meal plans, access to SNAP benefits and food pantries.

Housing assistance for college students

Find out from your school’s housing or student affairs office if there is an on-campus emergency residency program. Some schools set aside dorm rooms. The office of student affairs at your school may also point to off-campus housing solutions including short-term sublets, apartments, youth shelters or room shares.