Understanding Emergency Financial Aid for Graduate Students

by Ashley Eneriz

Even with the best-laid plans and intentions, sometimes, life happens. Although you can’t prevent unexpected events like a job loss or financial hardship, if you’re enrolled in graduate school when a challenge arises, there may be options available that can help you stay on track for your degree.

Different forms of emergency financial aid are sometimes available for graduate students who have exhausted other funding options and still find themselves in need. When a student is pushed to the point where they feel they may have to pause their studies and leave campus—even just for a semester—they should first research their college’s emergency aid offerings.

Qualifying for Emergency Financial Aid

Each university differs in what type of aid it offers and the qualifications for receiving it. Some colleges have a specific loan or grant program for critical needs, while others have degree-specific aid. In addition, many campuses offer tuition waivers or fee deferments.

Mae Gill, the associate director for Azusa Pacific University’s Graduate and Professional Student Financial Services, explained that APU’s Emergency Aid grant aims to help students whose situations require an emergency infusion of financial aid. “This grant is designed to assist in situations where the emergency or financial hardship may impede academic progress, and for those who cannot reasonably resolve their financial difficulty through loans or personal resources,” she said.

Typically, this type of emergency aid is available to graduate students who find themselves in an unforeseen circumstance, like a health or family emergency. The aid is usually accessible to students who meet certain qualifying standards, as set by the college.

If you suddenly find yourself in need of financial aid while working toward a graduate degree, the best thing to do is to speak with your financial aid advisor—even if you’re not sure if you qualify. Your advisor can point you toward resources that will help bridge the gap and allow you to focus on your coursework again.

Types of Emergency Aid Offered at APU

Azusa Pacific University has different emergency aid opportunities designed to support students in need. Some aid is circumstantial, while other opportunities may be program-specific.

Circumstantial emergency aid provides qualifying students with some immediate financial relief—so they can continue to work on their degrees without interruption to their enrollment. To obtain the assistance, students must fill out an emergency aid application and may be required to provide supporting documents.

An example of program-specific aid is the Student Teaching Scholarship offered by the Division of Teacher Education in APU’s School of Education. Angela J. Guta, PhD, assistant dean for student academic services, explained that in order to complete their credentialing requirements, teacher candidates must complete sixteen weeks of clinical practice teaching under an intern credential or as a student teacher. This program-specific aid is available for those participating in unpaid student teaching because, though formative and valuable, it can put a financial strain on some students. Occasionally, students have to pause their credential progress until they have enough funds available. To assist qualified students in avoiding this delay, the school created this scholarship opportunity.

“The School of Education hopes to help meet this critical need and reduce the amount of students stepping away from their program due to financial hardship,” Guta said. “This scholarship is by invitation to self-supporting students currently enrolled in a School of Education combined degree and credential program with a GPA of 3.7 or higher.” Other education-specific scholarships are also available, and students are encouraged to explore outside financial aid to offset the cost of their programs, she said.

Getting Financial Help In Times of Need

In addition to the aid programs and scholarships available to graduate students studying at APU, Gill noted that the school has a team of Student Account Counselors ready to speak with students who find themselves in a tight spot and need additional resources. “We meet with students one-on-one to discuss their financial situation and offer resources based on their needs,” she explained.

Along with this financial counseling, graduate and professional students can also get help determining if they qualify for other types of aid, such as military and veteran education benefits or tuition discounts. Additionally, financial literacy workshops are available to prospective and current APU students throughout the year. These workshops cover many financial topics, such as building credit, financial planning, and balancing educational costs.

Want to learn more about the aid available to graduate students at Azusa Pacific University? Visit the school’s Graduate and Professional Student Financial Services to explore financial aid offerings and opportunities.