In the past few weeks, college campuses across the country closed their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of students living in dorms and in campus housing were told they had to leave the grounds right away, giving them little time to pack up and find a way home.
Many schools have opted to finish the spring semester remotely, with students taking classes from home. If you count on your college’s facilities to do your coursework and for your basic needs, trying to do everything from home can be challenging. However, there are a number of companies that are offering free and discounted resources that may make the experience easier for you.
1. Free internet service
Many college students are making the transition from classroom lectures to remote classes. If you don’t have reliable internet at home, that can make keeping up with your work incredibly difficult. Luckily, several internet carriers have come forward to offer temporary solutions.
- Altice USA: If you’re a college student and don’t have internet access, you can get free internet for 60 days through Altice USA.
- Comcast: Low-income families — including college students — can get two free months of internet service through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Once you are a customer, you can also purchase a computer at a discounted price. You can apply online.
- Spectrum: Spectrum is offering free access to internet and WiFi for 60 days for college students who don’t currently have access to internet service. It will also waive installation and pre-payment fees. To sign up, call 855-243-8892.
2. Self-storage discounts
If you have to get off-campus quickly and need a place to store your belongings or need to move your stuff hundreds or thousands of miles, some companies are offering discounted or free services.
- PODS: In both the United States and Canada, PODS is offering 10% off container rentals for up to six months, 10% off initial delivery charges, and 10% off transportation charges on long-distance moves. It applies to new customers through April 30, 2020. Visit PODS.com to get a free quote.
- U-Haul: U-Haul is offering college students displaced by the coronavirus outbreak 30 days of free self-storage at U-Haul owned and operated facilities. To find a location near you, visit uhaul.com/storage.
3. Lowered age minimums and reduced rates for car rentals
Typically, renting a car as a college student is difficult. If you can find a company willing to rent to you, you usually need to pay hefty fees because of your age.
However, some car rental companies have lowered their age requirements, reduced their fees for young drivers, or offer special discounts to help displaced college students get home.
- Avis: From now until April 30, Avis will waive underage car rental surcharges for drivers under between the ages of 21 and 24.
- Enterprise: Enterprise will waive the young renter fee for college students between the ages of 18 and 24 through May 31, 2020. This offer is valid for rentals of full-size cars, minivans, pickup trucks, and cargo vans.
- Hertz: Hertz has waived young renter fees and lowered the minimum renter age from 20 to 18 years old.
4. Cell phone data
If you have unreliable internet, your smartphone can be a lifesaver. From downloading class materials to checking the news for updates, your phone can be an essential tool. Because of COVID-19, some cell phone providers are giving customers unlimited data and waiving fees so you can stay connected during a difficult time.
- Boost Mobile: Customers currently on an unlimited data plan will receive an additional 20 Gigs of mobile hotspot on their plans through April 30, 2020, free of charge. Customers currently on a tiered plan with Boost Mobile will automatically receive an additional 20 Gigs of data on their plans at no extra cost through April 30, 2020.
- T-Mobile: As of March 13, 2020, T-Mobile gave all customers unlimited data for 60 datas (excluding roaming). The company is also allowing customers to set up online payment arrangements if you’re past due on your bill.
- Verizon: From now until April 30, 2020, Verizon is adding 15 GB of data to mobile hotspot customers’ plans. In addition, activation and upgrade fees on services are waived, and Verizon will not charge late fees or disconnect services for missed payments until May 13, 2020.
5. Learning Resources
- Adobe: Adobe is offering free access to Creative Cloud tools for students through May.
- Babbel: For college students in language classes, Babbel is offering three free months to U.S. students. This is an opportunity to learn any of the languages offered, through June.
- National University: National University is offering three free months of online classes to all California college and high school students.
If you are currently in repayment for student loans, the CARES Act provides temporarily relief for student loan borrowers. Certain federal student loans will have payments suspended through September 30, 2020. For federal student loans this does not apply to, you could consider applying for an economic hardship deferment or if you have experienced job loss, an unemployment deferment.
For private student loan borrowers, there are options to pause your payments. Call your lender immediately if you are having financial difficulties.