Help-A-Zip and Community & Emergency Assistance
We understand that unexpected financial emergencies can happen as a college student - ZipAssist is here to help in any way we can! Please use our site to learn more about potential ways in which our office as well as additional campus resources here at the University of Akron could be of benefit to you.
To learn more about SEFA watch this video:
Help-A-Zip is for students having personal or academic difficulties.
Make a referral
If you or another student you know recently experienced an unexpected emergency, are in distress or have intent to leave UA, please complete a Help-A-Zip referral. A member of our staff will contact you and will work one-on-one to ensure you get the help you need.
Who/what does Help-A-Zip support?
Students who exhibit academic, mental health, personal or social concerns or those who need emergency financial assistance can benefit from contacting Help-A-Zip.
- Academic concerns - missed assignments; poor grades on exams, assignments and projects; repeated absences from class, etc.
- Mental health concerns - depression, anxiety, substance dependence, etc.
- Personal/social concerns - relationships, social contentedness, roommate compatibility, homesickness, etc.
- Experiencing an unexpected financial hardship and need additional support for:
- Financial aid/tuition - FAFSA, financial account holds, grants/loans
What happens when a referral is made?
Some referrals involve more than one resource and the Help-A-Zip team will work collaboratively to address complex concerns with colleagues across campus.
- Academic concerns, the referral notice will be sent to an academic advisor, who serves as a member of the Help-A-Zip Team. This colleague will make attempts to contact the student and recommend resources appropriate for the situation, and connect the student to their appropriate advising unit for further assistance.
- Tuition/Fee referrals will be handled by Student Financial Aid, who will access available resources and then discuss options with the student.
- Personal/social referrals will be reviewed by a member of the ZipAssist Staff, who will contact the student to assess the nature of the concern and connect the student to appropriate resources including the Counseling and Testing Center, Tutoring, various offices on campus and/or community agencies.
- Emergency financial assistance will be reviewed by the ZipAssist Staff. These professionals will access available resources and discuss immediate options with the student.
Student Emergency Financial Assistance (SEFA)
Eligibility & Details
What is SEFA?
- The Student Emergency Financial Assistance [SEFA] program, supported by the Ascendium Education Group – Dash Emergency Grant, provides critical support to at-risk students needing to overcome financial obstacles in order to persist at The University of Akron.
How can financial emergencies arise?
- Low-income students can overcome financial barriers to enroll in college with financial aid, grants and scholarships, but once enrolled, unexpected financial emergencies can force these students into making tough choices – leaving college, at times, is seen as the only option.
How does SEFA works?
- Students who meet the eligibility criteria can receive up to $1,000 over the course of the grant period for non-tuition related emergency need. University staff will work hand-in-hand with these students to make award determinations and contact third-party entities to arrange needed payments.
FAQs about the SEFA program:
In short, we define "financial emergency" as an unforeseen expense that, if not resolved quickly, could lead to the student's departure from college and loss of momentum toward completion.
The goal of the Student Emergency Financial Assistance program is to assist eligible students who are experiencing temporary financial hardships and to provide assistance to students so they can focus on continuing their academic pursuits.
The program supports sudden, urgent, or unforeseen occurrences that require immediate attention and would impact a student's ability to stay enrolled at The University of Akron. Funds are not available for tuition or other regular expenses related to enrollment at the University. Additionally, financial assistance cannot be used to retroactively pay for expenses taking place prior to the first day of the semester.
This program provides assistance to students at risk of dropping out of college due to unexpected financial emergencies. This Fund is aimed at helping students stay in college and meet their educational goals, ultimately, securing a better financial future for themselves.
This program is aimed at supporting low-income undergraduate students facing unforeseen financial emergencies. Low-income is defined as an Expected Family Contribution [EFC] of $7,000 of less. In order to be considered for assistance, the student must also have a 2.0 cumulative GPA and be seen as in "good standing" with the University. The students must also be able to provide supportive documentation of the financial emergency.
The Student Emergency Financial Assistance program can provide assistance to eligible students who are experiencing temporary financial hardship for non-tuition related expenses. These are expenses that are seen as "unexpected financial emergencies" not related to enrollment at the University.
- Medical/Dental Expenses
- Personal Automobile Expenses
If you are unsure if your financial emergency will qualify for this program, please submit a referral anyway! Even if this fund is unable to assist you, our staff will work diligently to see how we can best help you be successful.
We define "financial emergency" as an unforeseen expense that, if not resolved quickly, could lead to the student’s departure from college and loss of momentum toward completion.
- Entertainment Expenses
- Legal Fees
In order to refer a student, or refer yourself for assistance, please use the "Help-A-Zip" referral application found on this webpage. In order to best determine eligibility for the Student Emergency Financial Assistance program, please upload and attach supportive documentation to show expenses – this also helps to explain the unexpected financial emergency for the ZipAssist staff. Please include the Student ID for the student (if possible) to help expedite the process.
Funds will be directly paid to the third party vendor, as documented and provided by the student, associated with the bill or expense. By check or VISA, the University will directly work with the third party vendor for payment arrangements.
Students who meet the eligibility criteria can receive up to $1,000 over the course of the grant period (two years) for non-tuition related emergency need.
Our goal is to work with students directly in order to expedite assistance and financial relief. Once the "Help-A-Zip" submission is completed, a member of the ZipAssist team is notified and can take action on a request. After reviewing this request, and determining eligibility, the student will be asked to meet in-person with ZipAssist staff in order to complete all needed paperwork and to facilitate a payment. It is our goal to provide financial relief within a few business days for those hardships which qualify for the Student Emergency Financial Assistance program.
A team of staff within ZipAssist are trained on the various policies associated with this program and other financial support mechanisms on campus. Through the approval of this team, arrangements will be made for all granted financial emergencies that meet the guidelines of the Student Emergency Financial Assistance program. Once eligibility is determined, the student will be asked to meet in-person with ZipAssist staff in order to complete all needed paperwork and to facilitate a payment. Ideally, our team will work to ensure the financial burden, of those items which qualify, is alleviated within two business days of a referral and meeting.
Use the "Help-A-Zip" referral form found on this webpage in order to refer yourself or others to the ZipAssist team. From personal problems and academic issues to other financial concerns, our goal is to help you persist here at The University of Akron! Our team of staff members from across campus are here to work hand-in-hand with you in order to see you be successful while at The University of Akron.
For immediate assistance, please call (330) 972-7272 or after-hours reach us at (330) 972-7373. By completing the "Help-A-Zip" referral form, your request will also be generated to the ZipAssist team for review and outreach.
ZipAssist has partnered with local agencies in Summit County in order to offer a number of resources and programs to assist our students at the University of Akron.
The Salvation Army
ZipAssist and The Salvation Army of Summit County have partnered to offer financial relief, social services and immediate assistance to students in need.
Resources available for:
- Payment Plans
- Utility assistance (gas & electric)
- Food pantry (off-campus)
- Childcare (18 months to 12 years)
- Emergency travel
- Vision exams
Contact & appointment info:
A representative from The Salvation Army of Summit County is available in Simmons Hall every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the fall and spring semesters.
To make an appointment email us or stop into Simmons Hall Suite 120 for immediate assistance.
United Way of Summit County
Through United Way, the City of Akron has launched a community-wide Financial Empowerment Program. As a partner of the program, The University of Akron is now home to a Financial Empowerment Center offered to it's students beginning in the fall of 2018.
Students have free access to an on-site financial coach every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Simmons Hall.
Financial coaching will focus on:
- Credit Score Improvement
- Debt Reduction
- Increased Saving and Asset Building
- Banking Access
To make an appointment email us.
2-1-1 Infoline: Summit County
The 2-1-1 Infoline database contains all the details of local services and programs for those in need and it is updated in real time. For anything from clothing, to housing, to medical assistance, students can connect with hundreds of local agencies and programs.
Ohio Benefits Bank
ZipAssist at The University of Akron is now a certified Ohio Benefits Bank site, offering services to any UA student. While we know our students work hard both in and out of class, we understand that sometimes that just isn’t enough to get by.
At UA's OBB site, you can find out about:
- Available programs
- Check your eligibility
- Prepare and submit applications for a number of benefit programs
Benefit programs include but not limited to:
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Health Coverage
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
- Child Care
Other sources for assistance
You have several options:
- University of Akron Police: Available 24-7 at 330-972-2911.
- Mike Strong, UA's dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator for students, is the principal resource for students who want to know more about their options and available resources if they’ve been victims of, or involved with, sexual assault or sexual harassment. Mike is trained in all aspects of Title IX, a law designed to ensure gender equity on college campuses. Mike can be reached at 330-972-6048.
- The Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties includes seven employees who work directly with UA students. The center provides crisis intervention, support, advocacy and other resources to survivors of sexual assault. The center’s 24-hour hotline is 330-434-RAPE. The center has an office on campus in Room 246 of the Student Recreation & Wellness Center. Call the campus office at 330-972-6328 during normal business hours.
It is most important for students to know that Mike and the Rape Crisis Center employees are committed to supporting individuals who have experienced sexual violence, but they have different responsibilities as it relates to confidentiality when it comes to reporting an incident.
Here’s what you need to know about how federal and state regulations define reporting responsibilities:
- Conversations with Mike, as a deputy Title IX coordinator, are kept as confidential as possible, but information about sexual misconduct incidents must be shared with relevant administrators (and in the case of sexual assault, with law enforcement), so that the University can take any action necessary to protect the safety of the campus community and to comply with Ohio’s crime reporting laws.
- If a person indicates a desire to report a sexual assault to any UA employee, that employee should advise the person about her/his applicable reporting obligations and available confidential resources. A UA employee may have an obligation to report sexual misconduct to law enforcement or a Title IX coordinator. More information about reporting obligations.
- Confidential resources on campus available to sexual assault survivors are licensed counselors at UA’s Counseling and Testing Center (330-972-7082) or licensed health professionals at Student Health Services (330-972-7808).
- The team at the Rape Crisis Center are not employees of UA, and do not have the same reporting obligations as University employees. A sexual assault survivor who reaches out to the center can remain anonymous.
Anyone who has experienced sexual assault does not have to file a formal complaint to receive assistance, but will receive information about all of her/his options to keep themselves and the campus safe. All efforts will be made to respect the privacy wishes of victims of sexual assault; however, the university must balance all requests for privacy/confidentiality with the need to provide a safe learning and working environment for all.
We prepared to help any students through the difficult course of actions that are required to recover from a sexual assault.
- Additional resources for sexual assault victims
- Sexual respect at UA
- Reporting sexual misconduct and sexual assault | Learn about about confidentiality, resources available and how to file a report.
Additional Title IX coordinators who can assist
- Jolene Lane is the University’s Title IX coordinator for matters related to University sex and or gender-based offenses. Contact her at 330-972-7522 or email@example.com. Ms. Lane is in Buchtel Hall 209.
- Michelle Smith is the University's Deputy Title IX Coordinator for employees. Mrs. Smith can be reached at ASB, Room 125C, 330-972-5146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mary Lu Gribshaw is the University’s deputy Title IX coordinator for athletics. Ms. Gribshaw can be reached at: 183 James A. Rhodes Arena, 330-972-7080 or email@example.com.
The CARE Team is a University organization that provides guidance and assistance to students who are experiencing crises, displaying odd or unusual behaviors, or are engaging in other behaviors that may be perceived as being harmful (either to the student individually, or to others). CARE stands for Crisis, Assessment, Referral and Evaluation
The CARE Team accepts referrals and responds to students (and their families, faculty, and staff) when concerns for a student’s health, welfare, and safety are identified.
The CARE Team also supports members of the University community who interact with at-risk students by assessing and evaluating situations, communicating with individuals involved or impacted by a student’s behavior, and providing referrals and resources to assist and address behavioral concerns.
More than 50 percent of college students admit to having suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives.
Typical reasons for college students to attempt suicide include relief from physical or emotional pain, after a relationship break-up, or due to academic struggles. Suicide is preventable. Get help for you or a friend.
Contact us with any direct questions you have about these services.