With such a volatile situation worldwide, your college student may have just received the news that their school is closing for the foreseeable future – which means they need to come home, now.
While some universities have just extended Spring Break by several weeks, some are moving classes online already, meaning your college kid needs a space to work and study uninterrupted. Don’t have a stable internet connection at home, or need help getting your son or daughter halfway across the country on short notice?
First and foremost, check with the university itself for official guidance. As hundreds of schools across the nation are shutting down, each is developing its own protocol. Keep an eye out for instructions related to resources your student accesses every day on campus – housing, dining halls, health services and other essentials. The Hope Center recently released recommendations for school leaders to provide alternative dining options, benefits available to students, keeping campus health centers open, offering emergency aid to get students on flights home (or to pay the rent) and passing out laptops on loan and offering free Wi-Fi hotspots. If your university is providing any of these options, take advantage of them! But, if there’s any needs your child’s school may not be meeting, many businesses have stepped in to help.
Companies like U-Haul, Enterprise and Comcast are offering deals to students who many need to unexpectedly move out of their dorms or apartments quickly – leaving some in need of a place to go or a place to study. Here are just a few offers we’ve found at Living on the Cheap.
The telecommunications company is offering free access to its public Wi-Fi hotspots, whether you’re an AT&T customer or not. Just look for “att-wifi” or “attwifi” on your device, or download a hotspot locator from the App Store to find the closest nearest you. If you’re an AT&T customer, you don’t have to worry about paying late fees or having service suspended for the next two months.
Just like AT&T, Charter Communications will make its Spectrum Wi-Fi hotspots available to the public. To find a hotspot near you, search for “Spectrum WiFi” or “CableWiFi” on your device, or look at the map on Spectrum’s website. If your household doesn’t already have internet, your college student (or K-12 student, if you have one) is eligible for free broadband and Wi-Fi connection for the next 60 days. Call 1-844-488-8395 to enroll or check out Charter’s website for more information.
Comcast’s Xfinity is jumping on the free Wi-Fi train too, giving all internet users access for the next 60 days. Just look for an “xfinitywifi” network near you or search for a nearby connection on Xfinity’s website. For new customers affected by recent changes, Comcast is also offering free basic internet service for 60 days. If you’re already a Comcast customer, you won’t face disconnections or late fees, and the company has bumped every user up to receive unlimited data, no extra charge.
On Friday, Enterprise announced that it would be making changes to its policies in an effort to get college students home safely. First, the company says it is reducing the minimum age to rent a car from 21 to 18, and waiving “young renter fees” for any college students looking to get home through May 31. The offer applies to advance reservations made with a student ID. For more information, check on or with your nearest Enterprise location.
All current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers are now able to access unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming) and an extra 20 GB of hotspot tethering. The company also announced that it’s working with partners to give users an extra 5 GB of data a month for the next two months, along with extra data allowances for schools and students using the EmpowerED digital learning program.
The storage company is offering 30 days of free storage to college students who most suddenly move out of their dorms or apartments. Students with a college ID are eligible for the offer, as well as a discount on moving van and trailer rentals. U-Haul typically offers free storage in communities affected by natural disasters, but this is the first time the company has made free storage available nationwide. The offer is limited based on availability, so speak with a local U-Haul facility to learn more.
And, once your students are home – please remember, this is going to be hard for them too as they adjust to a new reality. Give them the space and resources they need to continue to get work done in a new environment, but don’t harp on them – they are capable adults who have been able to finish homework on time (without reminders from Mom or Dad) for years now. Let them succeed!