COVID-19 Emergency Resources Guide

by Kaitlyn Ugoretz, Funding Peer
Tuesday, May 05, 2020 8:05 AM

It’s no exaggeration to say that COVID-19 is having devastating consequences for graduate students’ financial, as well as mental and physical, wellbeing. We’ve all lost jobs, funding, rent, investments, and other kinds of financial security due to the necessities of quarantine, shelter-in-place, and social distancing. Though we are now working remotely, the staff and peer advisers of the Graduate Student Resource Center are still here to help you locate and access the resources you need to succeed.

To that end, here is a list of emergency funding resources available to graduate students at UCSB put together by your Funding Peer, Kaitlyn Ugoretz.

GSA COVID-19 Relief Grant

The GSA COVID-19 Relief Grant was approved by the General Assembly in April 2020 to assist graduate students who are experiencing sudden financial hardship due to the novel coronavirus. Examples may include, but are not limited to, loss of employment, medical expenses, sudden necessary travel, and other COVID-19 related expenses. The amount of an award ranges between $100 and $1000 depending upon individual circumstances. You can apply here.

The GSA has been working very hard to increase their support and succeeded in adding $20,000 to the original $25,000 total. However, demand still far exceeds supply. The GSA is seeking additional funding from private donors by working with John Loftus, our Assistant Dean of Graduate Fundraising.

How you can help grow the GSA Emergency Funds:

In order to help potential donors understand the many severe adversities and insecurities that graduate students are facing, the GSA is asking grads to anonymously share their own accounts of their circumstances if they are comfortable doing so. If you are willing to contribute, please submit your story here.

Federal CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant

The Emergency Relief Grant is part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are eligible if they are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, meet basic eligibility criteria for Title IV aid, have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2019-20, and are registered in the Spring 2020 quarter. Because this is a financial aid program run through the U.S. Department of Education, international students are not eligible.

If you have not yet filed a FAFSA for 2019-2020, you can and should do so as soon as possible before the hard deadline on May 22, 2020. Please note that you will need information from your 2017 tax return to file a FAFSA for 2019-2020. The form takes about 30 minutes to complete, and is typically received by campus in about a week, after federal processing. Questions regarding the FAFSA application should be directed to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships through their Virtual Line, accessible at the top of under “Join the Line”.

If you are eligible, the Emergency Relief Grant should be disbursed automatically through your BARC account if you have enrolled in direct deposit or through a mailed check. If you have not received the funds within two to three weeks following FAFSA submission, you can contact

Supplemental Emergency Relief Grant

Once you have filed a FAFSA, you will also be eligible to apply for a Supplemental Emergency Relief Grant. These grants are for students who have expenses related to the coronavirus that have not been covered by other programs such as: loss of income, loss of summer support, unexpected housing or childcare costs, costs related to technology, and unreimbursed travel expenses. You will receive this supplemental grant once your FAFSA is processed and returned to campus, as long as funds remain available. For questions related to the Supplemental Emergency Relief Grant, please contact


The AS Food Bank, located on the 2nd floor of the UCen near Subway, is distributing grocery bags with pantry essentials. To pick up one, you can stop by every Wednesday and Friday from 10am - 3pm.

The Miramar Food Bank, located within the Sierra Madre Villages, is also continuing to serve students with fresh produce, canned food items, and more; they are open every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 4 - 6pm. 

Both locations are available to registered undergraduate and graduate students who fall below the $14,484 annual income threshold.

CalFresh advocates are also providing remote services. You can find their virtual and in-person operation and contact info here.

For more information on local and regional food banks and services, click here.

Financial Crisis Response Team

The Financial Crisis Response Team is still operating remotely and is dedicated to responding to inquiries in 24-48 hours. They can help with any financial challenges that may arise for students through grants, vouchers, scholarships, case management, and other forms of aid. Emergency food grants may be available. You can get in contact with them via email at

Student Medical Emergency Relief Fund (SMERF)

The Student Medical Emergency Relief Fund (SMERF) has been exhausted for the 2019-2020 year, but if you are in need of financial assistance due to medical expenses, the application will re-open on July 1, 2020. More details here.

List of Emergency Loans and Grants

Review more than 10 different emergency loans and grants for general and medical emergencies here.

Additional Resources

Basic Needs Resources has an impressive and accessible list of resources available to UCSB students here.