Emergency Grant Program

Too often, financial emergencies spell the end of college for low-income students

Current Grant

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Great Lakes awarded $7.2 million in Dash Emergency Grants to 32 four-year colleges in six states to replicate the success of two-year institutions who've helped at-risk students overcome financial obstacles as part of their overall student success strategy. Great Lakes will also leverage additional contributions from its college partners, increasing the total impact to $7.7 million in emergency grants available to low-income students.

Since 2012, Great Lakes has helped two-year colleges build emergency grant programs and outcomes have been encouraging. These colleges report students who receive emergency grants stay in school at better rates and graduate in larger numbers.

Building on the success of these programs at two-year colleges, Great Lakes has now extended Dash Emergency Grants to four-year colleges and universities to launch emergency grant programs on their campuses.

Each of the 2017-2019 Dash Emergency Grant colleges has shown a commitment to helping students quickly address financial setbacks so they don't lose focus on their coursework and can continue on their way to graduation. Great Lakes will work closely with each institution, providing funds and administration assistance, including technical support from program managers. Colleges will contribute additional emergency grant funds totaling 10-15% of the Great Lakes grant amount over the course of the grant period. The first student emergency grants will be awarded in the fall of 2017.

This grant will help us learn the impact of emergency grants on four-year college students' persistence and completion rates. Additionally, we have the opportunity to identify nuances between emergency grant programs at two-year and four-year colleges. We're interested to see if there will be differences in the types of emergencies experienced by students, in the average amount requested, and how the timing of the request (e.g. fall, spring or summer semester) affects re-enrollment. We also look forward to adding knowledge to the field so other colleges across the country can establish their own emergency grant programs.

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Great Lakes awarded $1.5 million in Dash Emergency Grants to 31 colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin that have shown an extraordinary commitment to engaging with students who experience a financial crisis.

We created Dash Emergency Grants to make an even bigger impact than our previous emergency grant to help more students, at more colleges, in more places.

The process is simple: students apply for micro-grants directly from their college when faced with an unexpected bill, such as a car repair or medical payment. Expenses are paid within 48 hours of the approved application. By quickly removing financial distractions, students don't lose focus on their studies and continue moving toward completion.

With support from Great Lakes, our 31 partner colleges have awarded emergency grants to their students since spring 2016. To date, over $1 million in grants has helped pay the expenses of nearly 2,200 students, with 53% of the grant dollars going to emergency housing needs and 30% to emergency transportation needs. Our partner colleges reported that 90% of the fall 2016 emergency grant recipients reenrolled or graduated by spring 2017 term. We are pleased with the positive impact of this program so far, and we look forward to learning more over the duration of the grant.

Each of the 31 colleges is demonstrating proof of their commitment to at-risk students with an institutional investment: By providing an escalating cash match up to 40% for emergency funds, they will address barriers to completion and move toward program sustainability. Over the duration of the grant period, upwards of 4,000 students stand to benefit from the Dash Emergency Grant program.

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Contact Program Manager Supervisor Nikki Wachter at or (888) 889-3299 if you are a college or university with questions about this grant.

Students looking for emergency grant funds should contact the financial aid office or student services office at their college or university.

October 19, 2017

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