COVID-19 Guide

Resources and FAQs

Are you a high school student trying to understand how COVID-19 may impact you, your family, or your college future?  Are you a college student affected by the sudden closure of your college campus? Are you a community member eager to learn how you can support impacted students? This guide can help! Watch for new resources posted here and turn to our social media platforms for timely updates.

In 2017, the Philadelphia Education Fund launched PhillyGoes2College to serve as a resource for students and families interested in learning more the process of applying, financing, and enrolling in college. With the advent of COVID-19, we recognize that PhillyGoes2College can play a key role in supporting high school and college students who will now need to navigate a new, uncertain, and quickly changing educational journey.

As a starting point for those who have questions, the Philadelphia Education Fund recently joined with our partners at Philadelphia Futures and Summer Search Philadelphia to produce a COVID-19 Resource Guide containing answers to frequently asked questions and resources for current and future college students.

If you are a partner organization or a student with questions, email us at and let us know how we can help.

      

High School Students

Current College Students

College Access Counselors

COVID-19 Guide

High School Students

COVID-19 has made it difficult for many High School students to start and continue on their college journey. Below are a set of frequently asked questions and resources to help you.

Basic Needs

How can I access free breakfast and lunch when school is closed?

Here is a list of schools that will be open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 12 PM providing up to 2 “grab and go” meals while schools are closed.

What if my family can't pay for water, gas, electric or internet?

PECO: Learn more about PECO’s expanded payment options and financial assistance programs to help qualified residential customers who are facing challenges managing their energy bill. 

PGW: Click here for updated information on PGW’s payment assistance programs available to support customers during COVID.

Internet/Cable (Verizon subscribers): Find updated information about Verizon’s COVID policies, including options for financial assistance, here.

Is money available for basic necessities if my parents can't work?

If they are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), you may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits. Please visit this website for more information to check eligibility and to apply.

What about other things I might need support with?

Check out the Social Care Network. All you have to do is type in your zip code, and you will find over 2,800 programs in Philadelphia that provide support in a variety of ways (health, housing, transit, food, and legal services)

Online Learning

Is there a free option if I don't have internet at home?

Comcast will continue to provide free Internet service for the first 60 days for new Internet Essentials customers, and free access to more than 1.5 million public Xfinity WiFi hotspots through June 30, 2021. Learn more.

What if I don’t have a laptop?

  • The School District of Philadelphia will loan a Chromebook to every District K-12 student who needs one while schools remain virtual. Learn more.

How can I work on my academics while school is closed?

Here is a list of websites that offer online classes, videos, and academic resources so you can continue to focus on your academics while schools are closed:

  • Scholastic has a service for students in grades K-6.  If you have siblings at home with you, this service might be a great way to keep them engaged in academics.
  • Khan Academy
  • Check out this very large list of over 100 online, academic resources for students. 

If I take AP classes, what will happen with my AP tests?

Find updated information about 2020–2021 AP exam dates and options here

Financial Aid

How can I get help completing my FAFSA?

  • Check out this great resource (available in 9 languages!) that helps both students and adults understand and complete their FAFSA.
  • Here is a great video that walks you through the FAFSA in 12 minutes!
  • This page, run by Federal Student Aid, is a robust, “one-stop-shop” filled with FAFSA & financial aid resources.

How do I complete my PHEAA PA State Grant application?

Visit this page to learn more about the PHEAA PA State Grant application and how to apply.

Where can I find scholarship information?

Here’s a great resource with lots of scholarships. Check it out!

What does my financial aid award letters mean?

Check out this great guide that explains how to understand financial aid award letters.

Here is a worksheet you can use to better understand what financial aid you are being offered, and what the “out of pocket” cost will be for the colleges you are considering.

College Decisions & Deposits

What schools will be test-optional in 2021–2022

Here is up-to-date information.

Can I get help with the deposit if my family is struggling financially?

Reach out to your admissions representative and explain your circumstances.  Ask them if they offer to reduce or waive enrollment deposits.  Many colleges will be announcing policies given the current situation with COVID-19, so it’s important to check the websites of the colleges you are considering for the most accurate information.

Where do I get info on the ACT, SAT and ASVAB?

Testing: Most of the spring test dates have been postponed due to COVID-19.  It’s important to keep checking the specific websites below for updates about rescheduled tests.

SAT:  This is the website where you will register to take the SAT, and there are many free practice resources and tests on the website, as well as SAT Problems of the Day.

Khan Academy: Official and FREE SAT prep resources. It will create a personalized study plan for you!

ACT: This is the website where you will register to take the ACT, and it also has free practice materials.

ACT Academy: Official and FREE ACT prep resources including free assessments, videos, fames and personalized practice.

ASVAB: The ASVAB is required for people planning to enlist in the military. This is the website where you can learn more about the ASVAB and see some sample questions and practice.

How can I see a campus if the school is closed?

Many colleges offer virtual tours and videos on their website so you can see what campus looks like.  Try this website and search the schools you are interested in to get a virtual tour or watch some videos about campus life!

Where do I go for answers to general college questions?

Check out the Philadelphia Futures Step Up to College Guide.  It’s also a mobile app!

Check out this great resource from Khan Academy about colleges, careers, and more!

COVID-19 Guide

Current College Students

COVID-19 has made it difficult for college students to continue their studies. Below are a set of frequently asked questions and resources to help you navigate this difficult time.

Basic Needs

How can I access meals from public schools if I'm over 18?

Bebashi Transition to Hope will keep their food pantry open and are waiving referrals through the end of March. They can send families home with bags of pantry staples and MANNA meals.

Simply enter your zip code on the Social Care Network and see a list of over 2800 services for Philadelphia (many of them include emergency food!)

As a work study student, how can I continue to support myself?

U.S News & World Report stated that:

“Affected students who rely on federal work-study can anticipate receiving that aid even as they may be learning off campus through virtual classrooms or their campuses are closed. If the college closes such that the student can no longer work their federal work-study job or their off-campus employer closes and they’re not able to work those hours, the Department of Education says so long as the student started work, they can pay the student.  But this guidance didn’t say how the colleges will pay students.  Payment may vary depending on a student’s typical work schedule and other factors.”

Is money available for basic necessities if my parents can't work?

If they are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), you may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits. Please visit this website for more information to check eligibility and to apply.

What if my family isn't able to pay for water, gas, electric and internet?

PECO: Learn more about PECO’s expanded payment options and financial assistance programs to help qualified residential customers who are facing challenges managing their energy bill.

PGW: Click here for updated information on PGW’s payment assistance programs available to support customers during COVID.

Internet/Cable (Verizon subscribers): Find updated information about Verizon’s COVID policies, including options for financial assistance, here.

Completing Your Semester Remotely

Is there a free option if I don't have internet at home?

Comcast will continue to provide free Internet service for the first 60 days for new Internet Essentials customers, and free access to more than 1.5 million public Xfinity WiFi hotspots through June 30, 2021. Learn more.

Are there good tips on how to work from home?

Check out these 8 strategies from Northeastern University about how to be successful in online classes.

What do I do if I don't have my textbooks?

Check out the Open Textbook Library to see if the text you need is available.

See if Chegg or Amazon has the book you need at a reduced cost, or even has the option to rent it.

How do I share my challenges with my professors?

It’s better to over communicate than to go radio silent. If you don’t have access to technology, are responsible for taking care of siblings, or don’t have a conducive space to study/work, reach out to your professors and explain. This is a stressful time for everyone, and maybe your professor will be able to help provide some guidance, tips, or relief.

How can I be productive when I am responsible for sibling care?

Consider having everyone do a “school from home” day! Scholastic has a service for students in grades K-6.  If you have siblings at home with you, this service might be a great way to keep them engaged in academics so you can do some work too.

Here’s another spreadsheet that sorts by age for good activities!

Cincinnati Zoo Animal Livestream – every day at 3pm our time, a different animal tour!

There’s all sorts of folks reading stories to kids online. Check them out!

Two more resources:

“How to Talk with Kids about COVID-19”, Stanford Children’s Health, March 10

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019, from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

What do I do if I'm scheduled to graduate this spring?

Keep your eyes on communication from your school to see what is happening.  Many schools are waiting to announce plans as we get closer to May, and some schools have made the decision to postpone ceremonies or hold them virtually.

What will happen with my student loan interest?

The office of Federal Student Aid is providing the following temporary relief on ED-owned federal student loans: suspension of loan payments, stopped collections on defaulted loans, and a 0% interest rate. These relief measures have been extended to September 30, 2021. Learn more.

Will I get a refund if I don't return to campus to finish my semester?

This is on a school-by-school basis and colleges are starting to sift through this. Check your college’s Bursar’s or Business office page to see if they have any updates. Some colleges are starting to share out that they will be “prorating” room and board bills for this semester.

Self-Care Practices

How can I care for my mental health during this time?

  • Reach out to your counselor/therapist and ask if teletherapy is an option during this time.
  • Here’s a helpful article, “Protecting Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak”
  • NAMI Guide provides a lot of mental health resources.
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985- 5990 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters
  • NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) Monday through Friday, between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm EST for mental health resources.
  • Try the free version of a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace.

What can I do to maintain my physical health?

Check out Daily Burn for 60 days of free workouts you can follow at home.

Check out YouTube for free yoga videos.

How can I stay socially connected?

Think about connecting with your peers to do virtual study groups, hangouts, or check-ins.  Some great technology services to do so include:

COVID-19 Guide

College Access Counselors

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How do I connect with my colleagues and students?

  • Zoom is offering upgraded basic accounts that remove the 40 minute meeting limit for educators. Check it out.
  • Need a free conference line? See this resource.
  • Consider signing up for a Google Voice number so you can still reach students, but keep your information private.
  • Consider creating (if you don’t already have) a professional Facebook or Instagram account. Both platforms have video capabilities and these are platforms students are already using.  Similarly, you can do Facebook or Instagram live videos that students can comment questions as you go.
  • The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Connection website has a number of resources including tips to prepare for and implement robust digital learning plans and their partner Digital Promise has helpful COVID-19 online learning resources and FAQs.
  • If you are leading a team remotely, check out this great article for tips and strategies to continue your work.

How can I support my students in college?

This list of colleges that are moving to remote instruction is updated regularly so you can see which of your students are being impacted.

Check out this amazing guide “Beyond the Food Pantry,” created by the Hope Center.  This guide focuses on how we can support students during COVID-19.

How can I care for my mental and physical health during this time?

  • Check out Daily Burn for 60 days of free workouts you can follow at home.
  • Reach out to your counselor/therapist and ask if teletherapy is an option during this time.
  • Here’s a helpful article, “Protecting Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak”
  • NAMI Guide provides a lot of mental health resources.
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985- 5990 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters
  • NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) Monday through Friday, between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm EST for mental health resources.
  • Try the free version of a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace.

How do I work remotely while having kids at home?

  • Consider having everyone do a “school from home” day! Scholastic has a service for students in grades K-6.  If you have siblings at home with you, this service might be a great way to keep them engaged in academics so you can do some work too.
  • Here’s another spreadsheet that sorts by age for good activities!
  • Cincinnati Zoo Animal Livestream – every day at 3pm our time, a different animal tour!
  • There’s all sorts of folks reading stories to kids online. Check them out!

 

Two more resources:

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