IIE's Emergency Student Fund (ESF) provides grants to international college students in the U.S. when natural disasters, war, or other crises threaten their education. Many students face financial pressure to return home or drop out because their family's circumstances have changed dramatically. IIE helps these students cover essential needs, including basic living expenses.
We are a critical resource for students in crisis when they have no other safety net. From 2010 through 2020, IIE awarded 1,800 ESF grants, providing over $5 million in critical financial support to students from around the world. In 2020 alone, IIE awarded 980 grants – including over 870 grants to international students impacted by the global pandemic. In 2021, IIE has awarded more than 200 additional ESF-COVID 19 grants, including to more than 50 students from India.
IIE Emergency Student Fund Success
COVID-19 Response: $1,900,000 Awarded to 872 Students
In the summer of 2020, IIE committed over $2 million to aid international students caught in the crossfire of the coronavirus pandemic. IIE provided IIENetwork Member institutions in the United States the opportunity to nominate international students who faced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic for an ESF award. The ESF: COVID-19 Response provided grants of $1,500 to selected students who demonstrated high financial need. Students were able to use the grants to cover their educational, living or health-related expenses. IIE is proud to have been able to support over 870 international students who weren't able to return home during the pandemic.
Bahamas, 2019: $150,000 Awarded to 42 Students Following Hurricane Dorian
Due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has awarded 42 ESF grants to Bahamian students at U.S. colleges and universities who face serious financial need. Many families had to use funds that would normally go towards their children's educations, to rebuild their homes and businesses in the Bahamas. One International Business student who graduated in Fall 2019 says: "I wanted to thank you guys for showing me and my fellow Bahamians that you care. It meant a lot to us. I was able to use that money to pay off some of the remaining balances on my tuition and also use it to start my OPT process. We've all been through a lot and it's nice to know people still care."
Venezuela, 2018: $250,000 Awarded to 59 Students Following Political Crisis
After the turmoil in Venezuela, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has awarded 59 ESF grants to Venezuelan students at U.S. colleges and universities who face serious financial need due to the on-going crisis in their home country. One Radio, Television and Film major who hopes to give all Venezuelans a chance to follow their dreams someday, says, "My degree, something as simple as a piece of paper, will show people that I hold some level of credence and that I have the tools required to work on my field of specialty and take the first steps towards making the contributions I want to make."
Caribbean Nations, 2017: $333,000 Awarded to 58 Students Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria
Following the devastating affects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean, the Emergency Student Fund awarded 58 grants to students from 32 U.S. colleges and universities. The students represent the following countries: Jamaica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, the Bahamas, St. John, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago. One pre-med student from Dominica had her home devastated from the effects of the hurricane and faced having to drop out due to severe financial constraints and says, "It [the IIE ESF aide] has been really helpful. I'm really thankful that option was there."
Syria-Yemen, 2016: $215,000 Awarded to 91 Students During Ongoing Crises
The Emergency Student Fund of the Institute of International Education (IIE) has awarded grants to 52 Syrian students and 39 Yemeni students on U.S. college and university campuses who face urgent financial need due to the on-going crises in their home countries. These grants are made possible by IIE and additional funding for Syrian students from Jusoor, a non-profit organization that supports Syria’s development through education. A Syrian PhD student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science says, "The grant helped me complete my last term towards obtaining my PhD degree. This is an important milestone in my life and I am thankful for everyone who has helped me with obtaining this grant. I hope I will be able to help other students in need when I am in a better financial situation and I hope the knowledge I gained from my degree will make a better impact in the world." A Yemeni Bachelor's student in Supply Management says "Receiving such a grant brought hope and motivated me to keep seeking opportunities to finish my university career which I have worked on extremely hard for during the past 4 years. I will forever, be grateful for IIE and I will make sure to persevere to accomplish my goals."
Nepal, 2015: $330,000 Awarded to 165 Students following the Earthquake
With the generous support of the Freeman Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, as well as anonymous U.S. citizens who share IIE’s commitment to help Nepali students remain enrolled in their U.S. degree programs so they will be better prepared to assist their communities when they return to Nepal, the Institute of International Education awarded Emergency Student Fund grants totaling $330,000 to Nepali students. One student says,"I am really thankful to the Emergency Student Fund (ESF) for selecting me as a grant recipient. It has been a devastating situation for me, emotionally and financially. This award will help me to continue my education here in U.S. and to focus on my career."
Syria, 2014: $212,000 Awarded to 43 Students During Ongoing Crisis
With the generous support of the Al-Waref Foundation, the Institute of International Education awarded Emergency Student Fund grants totaling $212,000 to Syrian students enrolled at accredited U.S. colleges and universities. A Master's student in Business Administration says, "Your financial generosity has allowed me to be one step closer to my goal and has inspired me to help others by giving back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help other students achieve their goal just as you have helped me." Students have been awarded with grants between $5,000 to $10,000 grants to help them continue their studies in the Spring 2015 semester.
Iran, 2013: $134,000 Awarded to 67 Students
In partnership with the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), the Institute of International Education launched the Iran Emergency Student Fund in response to the currency devaluation in Iran. This initiative provided 67 grants of up to $2,000 each to Iranian students at U.S. universities and colleges with urgent financial need due to the financial situation in their home country.
Phillippines, 2013: $90,000 Awarded to 22 Students Following Typhoon Haiyan
With support from the Freeman Foundation, the Institute of International Education awarded Emergency Student Fund (ESF) grants totaling $90,000 to 22 U.S.-based Filipino students whose home-country financial support was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Nominated by faculty or administrators at their U.S. host institutions, students were awarded need-based grants of $3,000 or $6,000 to enroll and meet educational expenses for the Spring 2014 semester.
Syria, 2012: $92,000 Awarded to 46 Students During Ongoing Crisis
A PhD student in Foreign Language Education who received an ESF grant says, "While being an academically and professionally fruitful year, it has placed financial burdens threatening with the discontinuation of my studies. IIE's Syria-ESF generous contribution toward my university tuition helped sustain my studies, ensuring the stability [of] my academic work and the peace of mind needed as I strive for success and academic achievements."
Thailand, 2011: $330,000 Awarded to 73 Students Following Flooding
Siripond Siriwandee attends Seattle Central Community College and works as an office assistant in the international student office on campus. She plans to obtain an Associate's degree. Siripond faced the possibility of returning to Thailand after flooding destroyed her family's apartment building and rice shop. She says, "It is thanks to the support that your grant provided that I was able to relieve their financial stress and not have my education interrupted by these circumstances."
Japan, 2011: $400,000 Awarded to 100 Students Following the Earthquake and Tsunami
Sakurako Ujiie worked as a Resident Assistant at University Housing & Dining Services, and walked in the graduation ceremony at Oregon State University. She will receive her diploma in Fall 2012. "It was so humbling to see the huge public support for tsunami relief efforts around the world, including the EAF grant. I would like to say thank you again for the support."
Haiti, 2010: $583,000 Awarded to 147 Students Following the Earthquake
Julov Andy Pierre graduated from Pacific Union College last year with a Bachelor's degree in Religion with an emphasis on Health. He will complete an R.N. program in December of this year. He says, "I am grateful for the emergency assistance IIE provided. It helped me a lot."