Updated: Mar 18
We know many students have lost access to jobs on- and off-campus due to social distancing restrictions, so we want to help you find access to money quickly.
Access help to file your taxes
The benefits of filing taxes include the award of financial aid to meet your or your college cost needs, as well as receiving the public health emergency stimulus relief funds faster. Additionally, enrolling in direct deposit will ensure a reliable, fast, secure, and contact-less method to receive your refund.
“Tax Day”, the deadline to file your 2020 and up to 3 previous year taxes, is April 15, 2021. You can file electronically using the IRS Free File tool or getting free assistance at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site (check if your college offers this support). As a student, you may be able to get a tax refund up to $2,500, even if you did not work last year.
When filing taxes, it’s best to have the following information available:
Driver’s license (or other current state ID, passport, Green Card, or Employment Authorization card AND birth dates for all household members)
Social Security card (or other Social Security document with full SSN on it)
W-2 and 1099 forms for income (including pensions or Social Security, or unemployment received last year, if applicable)
Childcare expenses statement (including Employer Identification Number of the provider)
1098-T form for any college/ trade school expenses paid (including student loan expenses)
1095-A statement (this is proof that you had health insurance coverage through healthcare.gov, where you can obtain it)
Previous year’s tax return (if available)
Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business offers free tax preparation services for those who make $49,000 or less and do not plan to itemize deductions. Volunteers are available Wednesdays (6 p.m. - 8 p.m.) and Thursdays (1 p.m. - 5 p.m.) for walk-in assistance in the Pearlstein Business Learning Center at 3218 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19104. To schedule an appointment, please call 215-895-0436.
The Campaign for Working Families offers virtual tax preparation to low-income families and individuals in the Philadelphia area. You can schedule an appointment by phone 215-454-6483 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you did not receive the full Economic Impact Payment (i.e., stimulus relief funds) you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. Based on your eligibility, you may receive a total of $1,800 (Phase 1 - $1,200 and Phase 2 - $600) in relief funds. Unfortunately, if someone claimed you as a dependent on their tax return you are not eligible for either distribution phase of the stimulus dollars.
Access to cash if you’ve lost your job
If you lost one or multiple jobs due to coronavirus, you are likely eligible for unemployment benefits and should file for them immediately. Unemployment benefits are provided at the state level. Find out how to apply for unemployment in Pennsylvania. When applying online or by phone (888-313-7284), it’s best to have the following information available:
SSN (social security number)
Home address and mailing address (if different)
Valid email address
PIN - Personal Identification Number (optional) - If you have previously filed an unemployment claim (UC) using your previous PIN can prevent you from having to re-enter your information
Direct deposit bank information (optional) - bank name, address, account, and routing number
If you are pregnant, or have dependent children or relatives in the home, you may also apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This public benefit provides support through bi-weekly cash allowances and other key supportive services. If you were already receiving assistance, be sure to connect with your caseworker to discuss how to manage unexpected changes in school or work schedules due to COVID-19 so that you continue receiving your benefits.
If you are not eligible for TANF, you may apply for the state’s Department of Human Services General Assistance program based on specific criteria. There are several ways to apply for the General Assistance program, including:
In-person at your local County Assistance Office (also accepts paper applications and may be limited to capacity during the pandemic)
Local Financial resources
New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) Offers supportive services to help individuals and families track personal finances, along with housing assistance regarding renter’s rights, representation in housing court, and help with applying for mortgage forbearance. 2771 Ruth St., Suite 1 215-427-0350 email@example.com
People’s Emergency Center Offers counseling services for banking, budgeting, credit, and debt elimination needs, along with emergency, transitional, and permanent housing assistance. 267-777-5800 Community Resource Hotline: 267-777-5477 firstname.lastname@example.org
Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network Offers individual counseling and weekly workshops for establishing a bank account, restoring credit, creating a savings plan, negotiating debts, and securing benefits (i.e., SNAP, TANF, etc.). Additional services include assistance with emergency and transitional housing. 7047 Germantown Ave. 215-247-4663 ext. 140
Asociacoin Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM) Offers financial and supportive services to individuals and families including education on budgeting, debt reduction, credit repair, foreclosure counseling, predatory lending counseling, and money management. 600 Diamond St. 215-235-6070
Congreso de Latinos Unidos Offers assistance with housing counseling, rapid rehousing through the Office of Homeless Services referrals, tax preparation assistance, breast-feeding and parenting education, healthcare services, and support and advocacy for survivors and children exposed to domestic abuse and violence. 216 W. Somerset St. 215-763-8870 267-765-2272 email@example.com
BenePhilly Offers support and guidance with social service applications and legal assistance at various local organizations. 2761 North 22nd St. (mobile unit) 833-373-5668
Campus Philly Offers job and internship listings specifically for college and recent post-graduate people, including virtual events to directly connect with employers in the region who are currently hiring for entry-level jobs and/or internships.
Mutual Aid Philly Offers cash assistance, grocery shopping, prescription pickup, masks, prepared meals, emotional support, transportation, and other services. Complete this form, beginning each Monday at 12pm, to sign up for assistance. 215-798-0222 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Access help to pay for college
Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by April 15, 2021 to apply for financial aid, including the federal work-study program. Make sure you are mindful of the federal and state deadlines associated with the FAFSA.
Your college or university may also offer special scholarships or grants if you are an essential worker. Check with the respective financial aid and/or services office to learn more about this potential funding opportunity.
You may also apply for emergency aid at your college or university. The information may be on their COVID-19 information webpage but if you do not find the application, a quick Google search for “emergency aid” or “emergency fund” and your institution’s name can help to locate it. Connect with the Dean of Students’ office to inquire about aid available for food, housing, and other basic needs, ask a trusted faculty member if your college has a “FAST Fund” available.
Access help to understand your student loans
The CARES Act protections for federal student loan borrowers has been extended to September 30, 2021 for interest accrual and payments. Nonpayment during this time will not affect public service loan forgiveness and other forgiveness or loan rehabilitation programs. Credit reporting, wage garnishment, and tax refund seizures will be halted during this forbearance period as well. If you have educational loans from a private lender or institution you should review their website to identify what relief they may be offering during the pandemic.
Access information for emergency loans
Like financial aid, we always recommend that you start with accessing money you won’t need to pay back; however, sometimes an emergency loan may be necessary. You may consider free interest loans that organizations like Central Scholarship, the Jewish Free Loan Association, and the Hebrew Free Loan Society, who are offering assistance during the pandemic.
Still in need of help? Check out the other sections of the Philadelphia Local Guide.
Please note: Edquity does not endorse nor is Edquity associated with any business, organization, product or service that is mentioned in these Guides. Edquity is not responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information provided, which may change over time. We encourage you to contact the business or organization listed to receive the most up-to-date information.