Scholar's Coronavirus Resource Guide

These last few weeks have been unprecedented in modern history. People from across the country and around the world have had their lives turned upside down. The scope of this disaster is unparalleled.

We know that as a college student you have had your life impacted severely. You may have been asked to move out of your dorm with short notice and no place to go or you may have lost your job which you needed to pay expenses like rent and food. One way or the other everyone has experienced challenges they did not anticipate and did not plan for.

There is some good news. There is a lot of help out there, but YOU as the student must reach out to these companies that are offering help and ask for it.

We provide this information so you can see in one place many of the opportunities available to you. There are most likely many more. Do additional research and see what you can find as it relates to your individual situation.

If you find resources that would be helpful to other Scholars please email us at info@scholarship.org us the link and we will add it to our Guide and credit with with the find.

Employment   back to top of page

If you were laid off as a result of the COVID – 19 outbreak apply for unemployment: Florida’s unemployment benefits max out at $275 a week. It’s no huge sum, but the check can be a lifeline. The state requires all claims to be filed online at www.floridajobs.org. With the sudden surge of applications, the state’s system has been overwhelmed. To beat the crowds, Tom Veenstra of CareerSource Palm Beach County suggests logging in at night. To reach the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity by phone, call 800-204-2418 or 800-681-8102. Check the state’s reemployment assistance FAQs to learn more. 1

Here is a link to a paper unemployment application if you are having trouble with the website or contacting them by phone. Click Here  to be directed to site where you can print out a paper application.

Housing    back to top of page

If you rent contact your landlord. Your landlord won’t know you were laid off unless you make a phone call, so get in touch right away. Probably now more than ever, it’s important to have a good relationship with your landlord,  The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Monday that it would offer mortgage forbearance to landlords — with the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of coronavirus. The order could affect 40 million tenants, the agency said.1

Contact your utility company. While public officials telling people to stay home, Florida Power & Light has stopped cutting off service to customers. FPL is directing customers to FPL.com/help.1

Satellite and cable companies are offering help, and so are phone companies. The Federal Communications Commission called on telecom and wireless carriers to sign their "Keep Americans Connected" pledge, to ensure customers are not cut off from communications during this time.

AT&TSprintVerizon, and T-Mobile have all agreed to give their customers breaks while making sure the lines of communication are kept open.

Comcast also signed the FCC's pledge. According to USA TODAY, Comcast "is offering free access to its Xfinity WiFi hot spots for everyone, including non-subscribers, for the 60 days. It's also providing unlimited data to its customers for no extra charge and is not disconnecting internet service or charging late fees for customers who say they can't pay their bills. The company is also providing 60 days of free basic internet service to new customers.

Mental Health   back to top of page

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.  How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and  the community you live in.

Student Emergency Aid   back to top of page

On April 9th the U.S. Secretary of Education announced more than $6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Colleges and universities are required to utilize this funding to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care, and childcare. The college or university will then determine which students will receive the cash grants on a case by case basis and you will need to apply for it.

This could be an incredible resource to you. And remember “the early bird catches the worm.”

In a quick review of Florida colleges and universities, some schools have information on this program and others have not yet addressed it. Go on your institution’s website and search for this program and if you don’t find anything keep looking because the school must distribute these funds to help you the college student.

Click Here to view how much your school will receive in Emergency Aid.

Student Loans

Contact your student loan servicer. Federal student loans allow for “forbearance” — a pause in payments during a layoff or other financial hardship. The U.S. Department of Education, which has a guide here, says you should contact your servicer to negotiate new terms. If you don’t know who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 800-433-3243. And remember the distinction between federal and private student loans. The more lenient terms offered on federal loans might not apply to loans from private lenders.1

You can now stop paying your federal student loans for 60 daysFederal student loan interest will be waived as well. This is how to get a 0% interest rate, delay payment of your federal student loans and get relief for your student loans due to coronavirus:2

How To Get A 0% Interest Rate

  1. Starting March 13, 2020, your federal student loan interest rate will temporarily be set to 0%. Yes, 0%.
  2. You don’t have to complete any forms or request a 0% interest rate from your federal student loan servicer. Your student loan servicer will change your interest rate to 0% automatically.
  3. Importantly, this 0% interest rate only applies to federal student loans, not private student loans.
  4. You won’t owe any interest on your federal student loans during this 60-day period.4

How To Get An Administrative Forbearance

  1. If you want to suspend payment of your federal student loans for 60 days without any penalty, you can contact your federal student loan servicer to request an administrative forbearance. This is not automatic.
  2. If you choose this option, you won’t be required to make any federal student loan payments for 60 days.
  3. Importantly, this only applies to federal student loans held by a federal government agency. If you’re not sure if your student loans qualify, contact your student loan servicer to confirm.
  4. If you are pursuing public service loan forgiveness, pausing your federal student loan payments won’t count toward the required 120 payments. That said, the program doesn’t require consecutive payments, so you can simply resume your federal student loan payments after the temporary period ends and still be eligible for student loan forgiveness.4

Taxes  back to top of page

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020.

The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can't file by the July 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request an extension to file their return.

Credit Cards   back to top of page

Call your credit card company. If you’ve lost your job, don’t silently skip a payment. Credit card issuers impose punitive penalties and interest rates on borrowers who miss monthly payments, and the costly cascade can be financially devastating. However, if you alert your card issuer right away, you can mitigate the damage. Most credit card companies have some kind of program in place to suspend payments.1

Apple Card leading the way. Apple Card holders can skip their next payment without paying interest.

American Express

Cardholders who are having difficulties paying their bills can contact American Express by calling the number on the back of their card or by online chat or the Amex app to discuss their situation.

Barclays

Barclays urges credit card account holders to call for assistance if they have problems paying their bills because of COVID-19. Barclaycard’s number for general inquiries in the U.S. is (866) 928-8598.

Capital One

“We understand that this is a time of uncertainty for many people, and we know that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties. Capital One is here to help and we encourage customers who may be impacted to reach out to discuss how we might be of assistance,” Capital One said in a statement.

Because each customer’s situation is different, the bank encourages customers to call it directly. To contact Capital One customer service about an existing account, call (800) 227-4825. Options might include reduced minimum payments or fee waivers.

A March 17 report by the New York Times suggested Capital One is allowing cardholders to skip payments without incurring interest if they request it. (The same report noted Barclays and Bank of America are allowing some customers to pause their payments while still accruing interest, while Discover “would not commit” to stopping interest charges.)

Chase

Chase encouraged its customers to call the number on the back of their cards if they’re affected by COVID-19 and need help with their accounts.

Citi

The bank said it is offering a range of assistance to impacted credit card customers, including offering increases in credit lines and forbearance from collections. Cardholders can call the number on the back of their cards to find out about assistance programs.

For those with bank accounts, Citi is offering waivers on monthly service fees and penalty waivers for early withdrawals from CDs. Customers can contact the bank for assistance with their individual or small business needs.

“We continue to monitor developments closely and will evaluate additional actions to support our clients and communities as needs arise,” Selva said.

Discover

Discover will be extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of COVID-19. Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.

“We encourage them to contact us by calling, and are directing them to www.Discover.com/coronavirus for phone numbers for each product line and other FAQs,” Discover said in a statement. “We also can provide relief through our mobile text app, which connects a customer directly with an agent.” Discover Card won't report late payments to credit bureaus.

Goldman Sachs

Apple Card customers were sent an e-mail offering enrollment in an an assistance program that will allow affected cardholders to skip their March card payments without incurring interest charges. If you have questions, contact an Apple Card specialist at (877) 255-5923 or via chat in the Wallet app.

Synchrony

The bank said it is monitoring the situation to determine what action is needed.

Truist (formerly SunTrust and BB&T)

Truist is offering payment relief assistance to customers with personal and business credit cards, among other products. The bank is also offering 5% cash back when SunTrust and BB&T consumer credit card holders use their cards for qualifying purchases at grocery stores and pharmacies through April 15, 2020.

Truist encourages customers to call (800) 786-8787 or visit SunTrust.com if they’ve been negatively affected by the coronavirus crisis.

“As we assist clients and businesses who may be affected by the coronavirus situation, we’re also listening and learning from those conversations to help us evaluate and possibly implement additional client relief measures as they emerge,” the bank said in an e-mail to customers.

US Bank is waiving many fees and working on its payment-skipping program.

Wells Fargo

The bank encourages consumers to call customer service at (800) 219-9739 to discuss options to aid in their specific situation.3

FAQs   back to top of page

What if my campus has closed due to coronavirus? Will I be able to finish the term and keep my federal student aid?

Please contact your school. Many institutions are making arrangements (such as take-home assignments or online classes) so students can complete the term.

If my campus is closed or only offering online instruction, will I still get paid for the hours I am unable to work for my Federal Work-Study job?

If you’re unable to work your scheduled hours because of coronavirus-related disruptions (such as school or employer closures or student quarantines), your school may pay you for any scheduled hours or allow you to work by another means—for example, completing work online or remotely, depending on the job. Contact your school for more information.

My mom can't go to her job because of coronavirus, and she doesn't get paid if she doesn't work. This means my financial need has increased. Can I get more financial aid?

Talk to the financial aid office at your school. They have flexibility to work with students to ensure the students are able to stay in school.

Someone in my family has coronavirus, so our whole family has self-quarantined, and I can't attend classes. How can I keep up in school, so I don't fail classes and lose my financial aid?

We encourage you to contact your school’s financial aid office, as well as your academic advisor/coach or program coordinator, for additional guidance about your financial aid situation. Your school can tell you your options for continuing in your program of study. Additionally, if you need to take a leave of absence as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, you should speak with your school’s financial aid office.

Many schools have provided detailed coronavirus-related decisions and guidance for students. We encourage you to check your school’s website and verified social media accounts for resources and the latest information about this rapidly evolving situation.

If my school moves classes online, am I going to get less financial aid?

If your school has moved classes to an online format, you must continue to participate in the course work and follow your teacher’s or professor’s instructions to remain eligible for financial aid. If you have questions about the online format, contact your school.

How do I contact my school’s financial aid office if the school is closed?

Check your school’s website for resources and contact information. Your school’s verified social media accounts also may be a good source for the latest information about how to contact your school during this time. While many schools have transitioned face-to-face courses to online instruction, most remain open and available to assist their students with questions.

Other Useful Information   back to top of page

  • OneBlood is offering $20 eGift Cards to their donors. They are experiencing a drop in blood donations since campuses and other public spaces have shut down. They usually give out movie tickets to their donors, but switched to gift cards for the time being. As far as safety is concerned, they urge donors to make appointments in advance to cut down on the amount of people in one space. They also screen their donors before allowing them on the bus. (https://www.oneblood.org/donate-now/corona.stml)
  • U-HAUL Many school campuses have closed down leaving students with having to move out in a matter of days. U-Haul is offering students with a valid Student ID free storage for 30 days. It is a company wide program therefore, any location near you will waive off the first month rental fee.Click <HERE> to get more info and find a location near you.

Fact Checking Websites   back to top of page

As COVID-19 spread around the world, something else came with it — an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation. Use these sites to fact check everything you hear before you pass it along.

References   back to top of page

  1. Coronavirus Florida: Laid off? 7 steps to take, and phone calls to make, now: The Palm Beach Post March written by Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:55 PM
  2. Here’s How To Get Student Loan Forbearance Due To Coronavirus: Zack Friedman, Forbes.com
  3. Credit card issuers offer cardholders relief amid coronavirus fears: Susan Ladika, creditcards.com
  4. Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents: StudentAid.gov