November 13, 2013
Undergraduates affected by Sandy eligible for emergency financial aid
By Katherine Busalacchi / Daily Collegian
The process of recovering after an unexpected tragedy is rarely easy.
Penn State is making that recovery process a little easier, though, on students whose families have been impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
Low-interest micro loans are now available to students who have been impacted financially by Superstorm Sandy, Penn State Director for Student Aid Anna Griswold said.
The loans, which will vary in amount based on individual need, are meant to help students whose families have been affected financially by the storm, she said.
To apply for a loan, students should contact the Office of Student Aid, Griswold said. Interest on the loans is 6 percent, and students do not need to begin repaying the loans until after graduation, she said
If a student’s parents had previously been paying a portion of the student’s rent or food costs and are no longer able to do so because of the storm, the student is likely eligible for financial assistance, she said.
The extension of the fund is specifically intended to help students from New York, New Jersey and other areas severely impacted by the storm, Griswold said.
The emergency aid fund was originally founded to help juniors and seniors overcome any financial difficulties that could prevent them from graduating, but eligibility requirements have been extended to include all undergraduates, she said.
“In light of the storm, the founders of the fund asked that we make this fund available to any student, specifically for any financial hardship they have faced directly as a result of how the storm has impacted their families,” Griswold said.
Tom Sharbaugh, who founded the program in fall 2011, said the decision was made to extend the program because many Penn State students have been affected by the storm.
“The emergencies resulting from Sandy seem to be the exact kind of unexpected emergencies that are supposed to be covered by the fund,” Sharbaugh, Class of 1973, said.
The fund is supported entirely by alumni donations, Sharbaugh said. Repaid loans go directly back into the fund, which now has about $250,000 of funds available to distribute, he said.
Steph Rosenfeld, a Penn State alumnus who volunteers with the emergency aid fund program, said that the fund was initially started to help cover the rising costs of college education.
Rosenfeld, Class of 1973, said the goal is to make it easier for students and their families to receive aid so that as many students as possible can benefit from the program.
“We’re trying to help raise as much money as possible, without putting students and their families through the bureaucratic red tape that often comes along with receiving loans,” Rosenfeld said. “Our goal is to do everything possible to prevent roadblocks to graduation.”
Rosenfeld said that he encourages those who have not been impacted by the storm to donate to the fund, because even the smallest donation can make a difference.