Emergency Fund Program

The Graduate School Dean’s Emergency Fund Program assists Cornell graduate students experiencing urgent financial hardship due to unanticipated one-time expenses. This fund is intended to support the continued academic progress and well-being of students experiencing short-term financial hardship who cannot reasonably resolve their immediate financial needs through loans, aid programs, or personal resources. Only urgent needs and expenses incurred by the student directly will be considered.

Grants of up to $500 are provided to help students offset necessary emergency expenses that cannot be funded by other means. Funding priority is based on the situation’s urgency, hardship level, and the student’s overall financial situation.

Eligibility Requirements

Students who can demonstrate need and are facing a current unexpected emergency may apply for this grant. Applicants must:

  • Be enrolled for the semester at the time of the request. Students on a leave of absence are not eligible. 
  • Be enrolled in a degree program offered through Cornell’s Graduate School. This includes research degrees (M.A., M.S., or Ph.D.) and professional degrees administered through the Graduate School. If you are in an advanced-degree program that is administered outside of the Graduate School, you must seek emergency funding support through your college or school.
  • Be in good academic standing with no current bursar holds.


The Graduate School Dean’s Emergency Fund was created to provide eligible students facing short-term, non-recurring emergencies with a one-time grant to alleviate the situation. Emergency funds are not intended to cover standard expenses included in the budgeted cost of attendance for the academic year (namely, tuition, fees, housing, and educational supplies); purchase of new technology or replacement of old technology; expenses incurred by someone other than the student; scholarly and professional conference attendance; fees and expenses related to post-graduation employment; costs associated with moving to or away from Ithaca; or loan repayment or credit card debt. In addition, it is not intended to provide financial support for the emergency expense in its entirety.

Examples of Emergency Situations

Examples of emergencies to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Change in family circumstances
  • Fire/flood in living quarters
  • Homelessness or sudden change in housing situation
  • Illness/death in the family
  • Medical/dental emergencies
  • Overdue utility bills/turn-off notice
  • Theft of computers/books/clothing/other academic essentials

Allowable Expenses

Allowable expenses include but are not limited to:  

  • Travel costs related to unexpected crisis or death in the family
  • Temporary housing for displacement due to fire, flood, or other unforeseen circumstances
  • Replacement of items due to theft or damage
  • Emergency medical or emergency dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • Other unanticipated and urgent needs as appropriate

Important Application Information

  • Grants are awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis, and funds are limited.
  • Students are only eligible for one award.
  • The award does not require repayment.
  • Expenses more than six months before the application date may not be covered.
  • Grants may be taxable. The student is responsible for reporting the grant income and paying applicable taxes.
  • Grant funds must be used for the purposes specified.
  • Once your application has been received, decisions are typically made within seven business days. You will be notified of your application’s status at the end of that period and be informed of the next steps.

Apply for the Graduate School Dean’s Emergency Fund.

Other Resources

Depending on your financial needs, some other programs administered outside of the Graduate School that may provide support include:

  • Access Funds: This fund provides enrolled full-time undergraduate, graduate, and professional Cornell students with access to financial support, up to $500, to help mitigate on-campus barriers, access basic necessities, and cover emergency expenses not covered through financial aid or other university resources.
  • CU Emergency Fund: The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment (FASE) administers the CU Emergency Fund which assists currently enrolled students with urgent, unanticipated expenses. The fund is designed to assist with recent or upcoming emergency expenses that are above and beyond the standard cost of attendance. Costs such as technology, shipping, moving, or storage costs may be considered.
  • Office of Global Learning Financial Emergency Support: Limited funding support may be available to international undergraduate, graduate, and professional students experiencing a health care or family emergency or unexpected expense.

Food insecurity is a concern for many graduate students. A person who is food insecure has at times run out of money to buy food or run out of food before they could get more money. Additional support includes:

  • Swipe Out Hunger Program: Cornell is a participant of the Swipe Out Hunger Program, through which students can request support or donate.
  • Cornell Food Pantry: Cornell’s Food Pantry provides free, confidential access to food and personal care items to Cornell undergraduate and graduate students, as well as Cornell staff and faculty.

For a complete listing of food resources available in Tompkins County, please consult with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.


Janna Lamey
Senior Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life