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CISS

Financial Hardship

International students on F-1 visas are expected to demonstrate the ability to pay for tuition and living expenses upon acceptance to Bentley University, whether through personal funds, sponsorship, or external grants or scholarships. However, sometimes students find themselves in unexpected circumstances during the course of their education. These circumstances could include currency devaluations, crises or natural disasters, family or personal situations, or unexpected medical bills. Please find resources below for students who may be experiencing unexpected need that is not able to be met through on-campus employment.

Immigration-Related Resources

Severe Economic Hardship – USCIS Work Authorization

You may be eligible to apply for general off-campus employment authorization through USCIS if you are facing severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, such as substantial currency fluctuations, medical bills, or unexpected expenses. If granted, you are permitted to work in any occupation, regardless of relationship to major. Employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and you may work up to 40 hours per week during annual breaks (summer, winter, and spring). Requests for this type of employment authorization must be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Before submitting your application, the CISS office will review your case to make sure that you have substantial reasoning and proof to submit to USCIS, and will assist you in gathering documentation for your application. Applications can take several months to process and you must wait to be approved before beginning work.  To be eligible, you must:

  • Be in good academic standing and are maintaining a full course of study
  • Be able to demonstrate unforeseen economic hardship (examples include proof of  currency devaluation, loss of a family member, local crisis, etc.)
  • Be unable to find an on-campus job or practical training opportunity that meets your financial need
  • Have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • Be able to continue with your studies while working. Work may not interfere with course load

Please email GA_CISS@bentley.edu to determine your eligibility and learn more about the requirements for Severe Economic Hardship through USCIS.

Special Student Relief (SSR)

Special student Relief (SSR) is available to specific groups of F-1 students, as designated by the Department of Homeland Security, who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to emergent conditions, such as economic crisis, civil unrest, natural disasters, or other circumstances in their country of citizenship or residence. If granted, SSR allows you to apply for work authorization through USCIS, removes certain F-1 employment restrictions and may allow you to drop below your full course of study for a temporary period. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a citizen or resident of a designated country (see below)
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. on the effective date of the SSR designation
  • Be maintaining F-1 status at the time of designation
  • Be experiencing economic hardship due to emergent conditions in your country
  • Be enrolled in an academic program. SSR benefits end when you complete your studies, or the SSR program for the country ends, whichever comes first

SSR allows:

  • Removal of 20 hour on-campus employment restrictions for F-1 students
  • Removal of one year requirement to apply for Severe Economic Hardship (see Severe Economic Hardship section)
  • If approved for expanded work authorization or Severe Economic Hardship, eligibility for a reduced course load (less than 12 credits for undergraduates and 9 credits for graduates).
    • F-1 students who have already been approved  by USCIS for Severe Economic Hardship or who have been given employment authorization under Temporary Protected Status (See section on TPS), may request a reduced course load without applying for additional employment benefits. Please contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu

 

SSR Designated Countries

Effective Date

End Date

Afghanistan (citizens)

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2025

Burma / Myanmar (citizens)

November 26, 2022

May 25, 2024

Cameroon (citizens)

June 7, 2022

June 7, 2025

Ethiopia  (citizens or residents) December 12, 2022 June 12, 2024

Haiti (citizens)

February 4, 2023

August 3, 2024

Hong Kong (residents)

January 26, 2023

February 5, 2025

Somalia (citizens)

March 18, 2023

September 17, 2024

Sudan (citizens) April 19, 2022 April 19, 2025
South Sudan (citizens) March 3, 2022 May 3, 2025

Syria (citizens)

April 22, 2021

April 1, 2024

Ukraine (citizens) April 19, 2022 April 19, 2025

Venezuela (citizens)

April 22, 2021

March 10, 2024

Yemen (citizens)

September 4, 2021

September 3, 2024

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Temporary Protected Status, otherwise known as TPS, is a temporary immigration status provided by the U.S. government when the situation in a specific country makes it difficult or dangerous for its nationals to return.  

        TPS Designated Countries

 

Afghanistan

Nicaragua

Burma (Myanmar)

Somalia

 

Cameroon

South Sudan

El Salvador

Sudan

 

Haiti

Syria

Honduras

Ukraine

Nepal

Venezuela

Yemen

Ethiopia

While the CISS cannot provide legal advice regarding TPS nor aid in the application process, we can provide some general information and guidance about TPS' impact on your F-1/J-1 visa. Please contact GA_CISS@bentley.edu for more information.

The below resources also provide "pro-bono" free legal assistance if you would like to learn more about the TPS process. 

 

Bentley Resources

Student Hardship Fund

The Student Hardship Fund was established in 2020 to ensure that every Bentley student can focus on their education, even when facing unexpected duress. It is intended to assist students with unforeseen costs that may arise outside of the standard costs of education. You can learn more about the Student Hardship Fund here on Office of Financial Assistance website
Examples of costs that may warrant an appeal:

  • Travel cost associated with personal or family emergency.
  • Unanticipated emergency health and medical costs not covered by insurance.
  • Temporary support costs for a student in a dangerous situation.
  • Replacement costs of essential personal belongings in the event of theft or damage not covered by insurance.
  • Housing or food insecurity due to costs resulting from non-fault student employment change or other unforeseen circumstance.

Examples of costs that will not be funded:

  • Expected tuition, fees, living expenses and other standard costs of education like books and personal expenses (exceptions may exist for replacing educational resources in the event of theft or damage)
  • Study abroad costs or expected airfare costs to/from school.
  • Expenses related to conferences and professional development.
  • Travel costs associated with field trips and other school-sponsored trips
  • Non-essential expenses (e.g., library fines and, gym membership, parking tickets)
  • Support of student's family members.

Swipe Out Hunger – Food Insecurity

Swipe Out Hunger is a program designed to provide support to Bentley students who are experiencing food insecurity. Any Bentley student experiencing difficulty in funding or accessing food-related costs is eligible to apply for donated meal swipes. Learn more about how to request a donated meal swipe here on the Office of Sustainability’s website

Paying Your Bill

Students who anticipate difficulty in paying their tuition bill are encouraged to contact Student Accounts at GA_Student_Accounts@bentley.edu prior to the due date of the bill, whenever possible, to discuss tools and options (including payment plans). Financial holds may prevent course registration, so it is important to resolve these holds as soon as possible. You can find a complete list of payment due dates, costs and billing, as well as information on late payments and refunds here on the Student Accounts website.

External Funding and Scholarships

Student experiencing financial hardship may choose to seek out external funding or scholarships. You may choose to use a free scholarship search engine, or apply for a private alternative loan. Parents or students who apply for private alternative loans must apply directly through private lenders; however, Bentley is required to certify loan eligibility. Most lenders will require a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen as a cosigner. There are also loans designed with international students in mind, including MPower financing and Paras Education Services. Other external funding resources include: 

  • NAFSA | nafsa.org - Get information for international students applying to or enrolled in U.S. institutions, including guidance on costs, funding sources, scholarship search engines, and tax credit information.
  • eduPass | edupass.org - Offers guidance on admission, financial aid, cultural transition and more. 
  • FastWeb | fastweb.com - Enter your strengths, interests and skills and FastWeb will match you with scholarships that align with your profile. 
  • Scholarships for Development | scholars4dev.com - Find up-to-date listings of international scholarships open to students from developing countries. 
  • College Scholarship | collegescholarships.org - Use their financial aid database to search awards from corporations and nonprofit agencies. 

For more information on options for financial assistance, please contact the Office of Financial Assistance at finaid@bentley.edu.

To view a webinar presented by CISS, Financial Assistance, and Student Accounts addressing many of the topics above, please click here.