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Essential Needs Support and Resources

Essential needs, or basic needs, refers to the most essential resources required to be successful as a student at the University of Maryland, including food, housing, and financial stability. The Dean of Students Office is committed to an educational environment where every student thrives, and to providing both short-term emergency support and long-term support services that address essential needs crises and impact health, well-being, belonging, and academic success. We leverage a campus-wide collaboration that utilizes on and off-campus partnerships and provides direct referrals based on each student’s unique circumstances. We engage students in active partnership as they navigate their UMD experience and strive toward their academic and career goals.

The Dean of Students team works to connect students experiencing essential needs challenges with relevant resources. To talk with a supportive staff member about your experience and receive one-on-one assistance or to learn more about available resources, please complete the Basic Needs Assistance Form.

Campus Pantry

The Campus Pantry offers good quality and nutritious emergency food in a safe space to UMD students, faculty, and staff experiencing food insecurity. The Campus Pantry is located in the lower level of the South Campus Dining Hall Building.

Economic Crisis Response Grants

Assistance is available for students experiencing an unexpected critical situation and need immediate financial support. The grant is designed to help address a student’s unforeseen, short-term financial crisis or catastrophic life event that requires financial resources to solve and, if not addressed, could prohibit a student from remaining enrolled and persisting toward graduation at UMD. 

Emergency Meal Swipes

Emergency Meal Swipes are available to assist students who are experiencing food insecurity challenges and/or an economic emergency. The swipes provide 10 meals at any of the three dining halls on campus. Students can complete a Basic Needs Assistance Form to request support. This resource is only available to students who are currently experiencing a financial emergency and have exhausted other options. Emergency Meal Swipes are not to be used as a cost-savings strategy, and cannot replace financial aid and other resources. Note: the meal swipe program is not available during breaks since the dining halls are closed. The Emergency Meal Swipes are made possible thanks to the Student Government Association and Dining Services.


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, provides supplemental income for purchasing food for low-income households. College students age 18 through 49 who are enrolled at least half time may be eligible for SNAP if they meet the exemption criteria, which includes taking part in the federal work study program and/or working a part-time job of at least 20 hours per week. Click here for more information.

Emergency housing for students experiencing homelessness

Emergency housing is available for students enrolled at least part-time and age 24 and under. Students may have access to university housing subject to space availability and for a length of time determined by our case management team. 

UMD uses the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness:

  • Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (also referred to “doubled up” or “couch surfing”);
  • Students who live in substandard housing such as motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to a lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • Students living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • Students abandoned in hospitals;
  • Students with no stable foster care placement;
  • Students (possibly with families) who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member.

To request support, submit the Basic Needs Assistance Form so we can schedule a consultation to be assessed for this resource.

Break housing

Students who currently live on campus and are part of the Fostering Terp Success program are provided with campus housing during all university breaks, including Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring, and Summer breaks.

On-campus housing

The Department of Resident Life oversees a variety of university-owned housing options for undergraduate students.

Off-campus housing

Off-Campus Housing Services is an excellent resource for students looking for housing in College Park and beyond. It provides personalized information about housing and off-campus living, a searchable database listing available rental properties in the area and an online database where students can search for roommates with similar housing needs and interests.

Financial resources are available to help students pay for the expenses related to pursuing a college degree, including tuition, housing, meals, books and other important expenses.

Financial Aid

One of the most important places to begin is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also referred to as FAFSA. This application is the starting point for receiving financial aid, including the federal Pell Grant as well as University of Maryland institutional aid. 

The Office of Student Financial Aid provides guidance to students and their families with applying for and managing financial assistance while students pursue higher education. Be sure to contact Student Financial Aid for assistance.

Economic Crisis Response Grants

Assistance is available for students experiencing an unexpected critical situation and need immediate financial support. The grant is designed to help address a student’s unforeseen, short-term financial crisis or catastrophic life event that requires financial resources to solve and, if not addressed, could prohibit a student from remaining enrolled and persisting toward graduation at UMD.

On-Campus Student Employment

Several university departments offer student employment opportunities to students. The jobs on campus not only offer students a consistent income, but also professional and personal development opportunities due to their holistic approach to the employment experience. Search for opportunities using Handshake, provided by the University Career Center.

Financial Literacy offers information on everything from creating a budget to learning how to protect yourself from identity theft. The one-stop-shop is a great starting point for anyone that has questions about financial well being.

Tuition Waivers for Foster Care and Homeless Youth

The State of Maryland provides a tuition waiver to cover the cost of tuition for state residents who are foster care or homeless youth to attend a Maryland public college or university.

Eligibility for the Maryland Tuition Waiver for Foster Students is limited to any incoming freshman, transfer and continuing undergraduate students, ages 18–25, who are currently in or recently emancipated from foster care, or are orphaned and certified as independent by the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Eligibility for the Maryland Tuition Waiver for Homeless Youth is limited to any student who has been declared as a homeless youth or is experiencing homelessness as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The UMD Office of Student Financial Aid will help students determine eligibility for the waiver.

The Maryland Education and Training Voucher provides up to $5,000 per academic year for school-related expenses. Funding is on a first come, first served basis.

College is exciting... and stressful! Your mental and physical health is important, and many resources exist at UMD to provide support to you. No matter how you're feeling, please be encouraged, take advantage of these resources, and don't hesitate to reach out to the Dean of Students Office team if you need a place to start.

Counseling Center

The Counseling Center provides comprehensive support services that promote the personal, social, and academic success of UMD students. A variety of services are available, including individual counseling and group counseling. Individual sessions are offered on a short-term basis to address the common concerns faced by college students, including loneliness, anxiety, depression, stress, low self-esteem, relationship problems, eating concerns, traumatic events, academic challenges, and indecision about majors and careers. When a student’s concerns require more specialized or longer-term counseling, a referral to an off-campus community provider for counseling is recommended.

Behavioral Health

The University Health Center’s Behavioral Health Services also offers multiple services such as stress management, light therapy, and wellness coaching. 

CARE to Stop Violence Advocacy, Education, and Outreach Services

Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence provides free, confidential advocacy and therapy services to primary and secondary survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, while simultaneously empowering the campus community to prevent violence through educational presentations, events, and outreach activities. 

After-Hours Crisis Support

Counseling Center After-Hours Crisis Support: 301-314-7651

University of Maryland Police: 301-405-3333

UMD C.A.R.E to Stop Violence 24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 301-741-3442

National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988

The Trevor Project LGBTQ+ Youth Crisis Line: 1-866-488-7386

University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell)

University Recreation & Wellness inspires Terps to be active and live well. Current students can enjoy unlimited access to all campus gyms, the indoor and outdoor pools, intramural sport leagues and tournaments, the climbing wall, bike shop, and over 100 drop-in group fitness classes every week!


Meditation is a practice that invites us to slow down, breathe, and cultivate a greater awareness of the ways in which our body and mind can work together. It can be a useful antidote to stress and is often recommended as a supplemental resource for a number of health and wellness concerns. Check out the meditation sessions offered by the University Health Center.

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