Brandeis Emergency Fund
The Brandeis Emergency Fund is available to currently active undergraduate and graduate students experiencing some kind of unexpected financial emergency, typically affecting their ability to complete their studies, when other resources are not available.
Students who have not yet begun their studies, who are in a period of nonenrollment (e.g., summer term), or who have withdrawn, graduated, or are currently on leave, are usually not eligible for funds. Brandeis is very fortunate to be one of the few universities in the country that is able to offer institutional emergency funds to its students.
With a maximum of $200,000 per year, the Fund focuses its limited resources on students with high/medium demonstrated financial need (students with an EFC of approximately $35,000 or below, as determined by a financial aid application) who are experiencing unexpected financial emergencies for which no other funds are available (students are expected to apply for, and utilize, all other sources of funding before receiving emergency funds, including, if applicable, federal loan funds). Students with medium, low or no demonstrated financial need rarely receive funds. The maximum amount of funds a student can receive in an academic year is $1,500 (this amount may be pro-rated if the student is attending for less than a full academic year or reduced if funding becomes limited).
This fund has evolved greatly over the years, starting in 2009 with a one-time donation of $300,000 from the Caroll and Milton Petrie Foundation. Over the past decade, the Petrie Emergency Fund distributed, on average, $30,000 to about 30 individual students per year. When these funds were fully expended in early 2020, the university committed $200,000 per year, a portion of which was generously provided by Robin and Perry Traquina, ’78, H’19, Brandeis Trustee Emeritus, to preserve the Emergency Fund.
In March 2020, the demand for emergency funds increased dramatically as the majority of students were required to leave campus for home and transition to remote learning as a result of COVID-19 safety protocols. Through a crowdfunding campaign led by Institutional Advancement, the Brandeis community rallied to support the urgent needs of our students; alumni, friends, faculty, staff and families gave over $700,000 to the Emergency Fund. Thanks to these donations combined with university funds, nearly $1.2 million were distributed to over 800 individual Brandeis students in need from January 2020 through June 2021.
Unfortunately, the high level of funding that was made possible during the height of the pandemic was not representative of current available resources. In FY22, the Brandeis Emergency Fund returned to a more sustainable level of support, providing $188,804 to 282 individual students and, in FY23, $219,055 to 258 individual students ($19,055 of which had to be taken from FY24).
We understand that sometimes students go through a rough patch and need a little help. If you’re experiencing an emergency financial situation, please visit other tabs on the Emergency Fund page to find out more about those resources. If you're in between paychecks or just need some extra resources to get through the week or month, check below for a variety of options, both on and off campus.
The Brandeis Pantry provides pre-packaged bags of non-perishable items to any Brandeis student who is facing food insecurity or struggling to afford other common items such as hygiene and toiletry items. Pick-up location for these bags is at the Pantry, located on the third floor of the Shapiro Campus Center Building room number 316. Please fill out this form to register for bags. You can receive one bag every other week during the fall and spring semesters.
Swipe Out Hunger
Swipe Out Hunger is a program designed to support Brandeis students who are experiencing food insecurity and educate our campus community about food insecurity. Brandeis students can confidentially request meal swipes in blocks of 5 by completing the Emergency Fund Application through Brandeis' partnership with Swipe Out Hunger. Meals must be used within two weeks and cannot be used for guest meals.
Any student experiencing food insecurity can request meal swipes up to a maximum of 20 per semester, provided meals remain available. When used, the swipes will display as regular meal swipes at the cash register. As with all meal swipes, these do not carry over between semesters. Meal swipes can be used at both the Farm Table at Sherman and the Kosher Table in Sherman, as well as Usdan Kitchen (view menu and hours).
Healthy Waltham Food Distributions
On the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Thursday of every month, Healthy Waltham hosts a community food distribution for the local Waltham community. This resource is open to all local community members. More information about the community food distribution can be found on the Healthy Waltham website.
The following links provide useful information about local resources available to Waltham community members.
Student Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - (only domestic students may be eligible - please check SNAP site for more details)
The Office of Student Financial Services offers book vouchers and health insurance grant program for high-need undergraduate students who are required to purchase the SHIP insurance via UHP.
To apply fora book voucher, please schedule an appointment with your financial aid counselor. To apply for a health insurance grant, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and your financial aid counselor will contact you with next steps.
Examples of unexpected emergency situations that may be considered for high/medium-need students include, but are not limited to, the list below. Please note that amounts given for these categories may be less than the maximums indicated depending on funding availability.
- Unreimbursed emergency medical or dental expenses, including mental health counseling for immunocompromised students who are approved to study out of state.
- Intersession and transitional period on-campus/off-campus housing and food needs (for high-need students who are unable to return home and/or are taking classes; must use all possible financial aid first).
- Summer on-campus housing only for high-need students whose residence on campus over the summer is necessary due to housing insecurity or taking classes required to graduate on time (must use all possible financial aid first); does not include support for needs at family home during the summer. Students who receive a travel allowance in the cost of attendance upon which their need-based financial aid is based will receive this grant in lieu of the travel allowance in their package (a student cannot receive both). Documentation of a student's need to live on campus may be requested.
- Unexpected inability to pay rent (e.g., involuntary termination from job [does not include lack of hours during an expected break period], need to move due to fire or safety issues; maximum of one month/$1250).
- Please note that undergraduates with rent needs during the academic year must meet with SFS to request additional financial aid funds since housing costs are already included in the cost of attendance upon which their need-based aid is awarded.
- Food insecurity, for needs that cannot be met by the Brandeis Pantry or the Swipe Out Hunger Program (see Food Insecurity tab above for more information). In some circumstances, typically during break periods in an emergency situation, a maximum of one month/$90 per week based on USDA food cost index for students can be provided.
- Please note that undergraduates with food needs during the academic year must meet with SFS to request additional financial aid funds since board is already included in the cost of attendance upon which their need-based aid is awarded.
- Travel home for emergency purposes only, such as unexpected illness or death in the immediate family (excludes regular travel between home and campus; documentation of the emergency will be required).
- Laptop repair or replacement for graduate students, due to damage only (undergraduate students can apply for a laptop/equipment grant through SFS by submitting an application); max of $600, once during time at Brandeis (please visit Dell Technologies for possible options).
- Storage of belongings during the summer for high-need students who do NOT live within the drive-able area; max of $500.
- Theft or damage to personal belongings (documentation, such a police report, will be required).
- Phone replacement, due to damage only (maximum of $300), when needed for educational purposes, once during time at Brandeis.
- Purchase of clothing appropriate for winter (max of $350), or other needed clothing (max of $150), once during time at Brandeis.
- Child care required to allow a student to attend class/complete coursework (maximum of $500).
The Emergency Fund cannot offer funds for the following purposes:
- Tuition-related expenses, or other expenses that can be, or are already, considered in a need-based financial aid package or are billed to the student account (e.g., housing, meals, health insurance, etc.); please contact your financial aid counselor in SFS or GSAS for tuition assistance through a financial aid application
- Travel and other related expenses for internships, conferences, etc. (assistance may be available from the Hiatt Career Center or the GSA)
- Books and course materials for undergraduate students; please contact SFS regarding their textbook grant program
- Graduate school testing and application fees
- Support of a student's family members
- Regular travel between home and campus (the cost of travel is already included in the cost of attendance upon which undergraduate financial aid is based)
- Credit card debt
- Shipping of belongings
- Storage of belongings for students who live within the drive-able area
- Punitive charges for parking, library fines, damages, etc.
- State, federal or local taxes
- Legal fees
SFS can provide confidential support for students with high demonstrated financial need who are facing financial challenges. Please contact SFS at 781-736-3700 or email@example.com for assistance in finding the best financial path to meet your needs.
To apply for emergency funds, please complete an online application.
- Submit any relevant documentation of the expenses for which you are requesting emergency funds to the Committee via email. (Per university policy, documentation of expenses will be required unless it is related to a billable charge or an expense for which costs can be calculated based upon an official standard (e.g., average food costs per week).
- Respond to any requests for additional information to support your application. Please note that if you do not have a financial aid application on file, you may need to complete one for your application to be considered.
- The Emergency Fund Committee, which is comprised of staff from the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Academic Services, the Office of Student Affairs (undergraduate and graduate), the International Business School, the Heller School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Student Financial Services, as well as both an undergraduate and graduate student representative, will review your request once you have submitted a complete application with all supporting documentation. (Please note that all requests are confidential and that no identifying information is shared with the Committee.) Decisions may take 1-3 business days.
- If your request for funds is approved, your grant may be distributed in the following ways: (Please note that Brandeis is unable to give you same-day funds or provide you with cash. Emergency funds typically take a few days to distribute.)
- Student account credit — Grants awarded for non-tuition and fee billable charges, or other aspects of the financial aid cost of attendance, will be posted to your student account and may be included in your financial aid award. If there is a resulting credit, you would apply for this using the Refund Request Form and can request either check or direct deposit.
- Direct payment to the vendor — Expenses owed for a service (e.g., medical, dental, etc.) are typically paid directly to the vendor based on an invoice.
- Direct deposit through Accounts Payable — In the event that the first two options are not possible, a payment may be made directly to you via Accounts Payable.