Supporting Student Basic Needs

RCTC Basic Needs

The College recognizes that there are many students who may experience challenges in their lives outside of the classroom that may create stress and anxiety which impacts their academic performance. Challenges may include accessing enough food to eat every day, safe and stable housing, issues with childcare, family obligations, physical and mental health, unexpected bills, or issues with accessing technology.

As a student, your safety, health, and well-being are our primary concerns and we want to be able to support you in any way that we can.

This website contains information on resources on campus and within the Rochester community.

This is not exhaustive of current offerings and will be updated regularly to reflect changes with services, resources, and support. Please contact Anfa Diiriye, Engagement and Inclusion Coordinator, at with questions or if you have a resource to include.

You are not alone, and we will navigate these challenges together. Yellowjackets take care of their hive!

Child Care & Parenting

Child Care at YMCA Early Childhood Learning Centers has 500 openings for children at its 10 locations in the Greater Twin Cities and Rochester area. Parents/guardians can register at the YMCA website or show up in the morning at an eligible location, where a Y staff person will help get them registered (typically takes 30 minutes). Call Lindsay Azoca for more information at 507-200-4024 or email

Early Learning Scholarship can help your child attend high-quality childcare and early education to help your child get ready for kindergarten. Early Learning Scholarship eligibility information and application.

Phone: 888-450-2773


Families First Crisis Nursery Overwhelmed by financial issues, illness, or loss? Families First of Minnesota offers Crisis Nursery services — short-term care for children in Olmsted County while their parents deal with the problem. If you are an Olmsted County resident with children birth through age twelve, call 507-287-2020 to access Crisis Nursery services. After normal business hours, call 507-535-5625.

Help Me Connect is a navigator connecting pregnant and parenting families with young children (birth – 8 years old) with services in their local communities that empower families to be healthy and safe. Help Me Connect is an interagency collaboration between Minnesota's Departments of Education, Health and Human Services.

Minnesota Postsecondary Child Care Grant The Child Care Grant program provides financial assistance to students who have children 12 and under, are not receiving assistance under the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), and who demonstrate financial need for grants, to help pay for child care while pursuing postsecondary education. Contact Renea Kispert in Financial Aid with questions at

Parent Aware Offering free tools and resources to help families find quality childcare. Call 1-888-291-9811 or visit Parent Aware to search for child care options.

Onward and Upward program was created to provide a pathway for single mothers, single fathers, and pregnant women in completing their education and achieving family financial stability and self-sufficiency. We aim to provide comprehensive social and financial support to overcome barriers to graduation.

Program Components:

  • Students enrolled in Onward and Upward are paired with a Catholic Charities Navigator to identify a plan for academic success.
  • Navigators mentor students based on individual interests.
  • Navigators provide connections to community supports and services.
  • Monthly Scholarship and emergency assistance are available.
  • Students agree to meet twice a month with their Navigator to be eligible for a monthly scholarship.

To apply fill out this online application and a Catholic Charities navigator will be in contact with you:

Mother and Child Assistance Fund Catholic Charities Mother and Child fund will consider applications made by women during their pregnancy or parenting a child under 12 months of age. An application including a monthly expenses worksheet, pregnancy verification, and service provider information must be completed. Applicants will meet with a Catholic Charities Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption Social worker to review the application and monthly expenses. Applicants will also watch an educational video and attend a financial workshop before their application can be considered for approval. Applicants can receive one-time funding from one of the following categories: Rent, Utilities, Medical, Child Care Assistance, Parenting education, and other categories on a case by case basis.  For more information please call 507-287-2047.

Financial Assistance

Tax preparation Assistance The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP Tax-Aide programs help prepare federal and state income tax and property tax refund returns. You may qualify for free tax preparation for your returns. Learn if you qualify for tax preparation assistance.

Individuals may also qualify for Free Electronic Filing.

Need Help Paying Bills This organization provides information on assistance programs, charity organizations, and resources that offer help paying bills, mortgages, and debt relief (financial, rent, and government assistance). Visit

Student Emergency Fund The Student Emergency Fund (SEF) provides students with financial support when they need assistance with unexpected emergency expenses surrounding situations such as accidents, illnesses, death of a family member, transportation issues, fire damage, or need for temporary housing. We will also help provide assistance with expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds distributed do not generally exceed $500. You can apply for the SEF online (log in using and the password should be the same as their StarID).


Hive Supply Hive Supply, our campus-based food pantry, is still open for student use during this time. To comply with current recommendations for the CDC related to social distancing we have created pre-packed brown paper bags with items from the Hive Supply as a grab and go option. Students are able to pick up a bag of food items on campus in the Atrium during business hours (8am-4:30pm Monday-Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday).

Channel One Regional Food Bank As of Monday, March 23, the Channel One Food Shelf is open for drive-up/curb-side registration and pick up ONLY. Hours remain the same, 8am-6pm Monday through Thursday, and 8am-12pm Friday. The Salvation Army is also distributing boxes at their downtown location.

Households can come for a box of non-perishable groceries, and bags of limited amounts of perishable dairy, produce and frozen protein (meat). In order to follow health guidelines, we urge clients to come to Channel One only when in need of groceries.

If families are already registered, they can check in with the Channel One “community card” or Channel One ID number. Households can also check in with the name of the head of the household and their birth date. New households can register curbside with the name of the head of the household and their birth date, without further verification. We only ask for enough information to be able to tell people apart, and decide how to serve them best.

Check Channel One website and Channel One Facebook page for the most current updates.

Community Food Response Open 5-6pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. During the COVID-19 pandemic they are distributing pre-filled bags outside to maintain social distance. Community Food Response is located at 3945 10th Ave. NW (east of Gage School). Call 507-281-5061 for more information.

Minnesota Department of Human Services COVID-19 Emergency Food Support For information on emergency food support and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance.

Minnesota Food Helpline If you’re struggling to put food on the table, call 1-888-711-1151 from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. You can also use the chat feature on the helpline’s website, or use this map to find resources near you.

Open Table – Burrito Food Truck Open Table is a mobile food ministry that serves a meal every Thursday evening to guests in SE Rochester. Their yellow food truck stops first at Oak Terrace and Parkside mobile home parks, and then drives down Marion Road and serves guests near Eastridge Estates apartments.

Ruby’s Pantry Ruby’s Pantry distributes food at Pop-Up Pantry locations across MN & WI. There is no income or residency requirement and for a $20 bundle donation you will receive an abundance of groceries. The Pop-Up Pantry is open the 1st Wednesday of the Month at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Zumbrota, MN (1549 East Avenue). Registration begins at 4:30pm and Food bundles are available from 5- 6:30pm.

Salvation Army – Bread Pantry and Lunch Program The Bread Pantry is open to take free bread from the bread cupboard located at 20 NE First Avenue. Basked goods are collected from local grocers and bakeries to stock their shelves. The Bread Pantry is open from 8am-4pm. The lunch program is available with meals to go from 11:30am-12pm.

Please call 507-288-3663 with questions.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, helps Minnesotans with low incomes get the food they need for nutritious and well-balanced meals. The program provides support to help stretch your household food budget. It is not intended to meet all of your household’s food needs. It is a supplement. If you are approved for SNAP, you can use your benefits at many stores, farmers markets and senior dining sites.

SNAP eligibility and application process

Three Rivers Community Action is able to assist with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach and applications.

Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) WIC is a nutrition and breastfeeding program that helps young families eat well and be healthy. WIC helps pregnant woman learn about nutritious foods for a healthy pregnancy and birth, support breastfeeding, and helps families provide nutritious foods to their young children so they are healthy, happy and ready to learn.

Women who are pregnant or nursing or individuals with a child under the age of five may be eligible for WIC.

To see if you are eligible contact the WIC Hotline at 1-800-942-4030 to find a WIC Clinic near you.

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is a temporary food benefit available to Minnesota families with children who would have received free or reduced-price meals if schools were open. During the 2019-2020 school year and the following summer, more than 265,000 Minnesota children received P-EBT benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) authorizes the P-EBT program. The Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Department of Education collaborate in the operation of the program in Minnesota.
For more information visit

Community Dental Care Community Dental Care is one of the largest not-for-profit dental practices in Minnesota and provides a complete array of preventative, restorative, and emergency dental services to a diverse community of individuals, children, families, and the elderly – anyone who needs care.

Phone: 507-258-7934


Community Health Services Inc. Community Health Services Inc. works to provide quality, patient-centered healthcare and services with professionalism and passion, collaborating with community partners to promote health equity. Services include medical care, dental care, behavioral health, substance abuse, and victim advocacy.

CHSI accepts Medicaid, Medicare, and most insurance plans. In addition, you may also qualify for our sliding fee payment scale, along with discounted drug prices, also known as 340B prescription drug pricing. Same-day and walk-in appointments are available. Rochester is home to CHSI’s only year-round site in southern Minnesota. Housed in the Heintz Center at Rochester Community and Technical College. CHSI has developed great relationships with Mayo Clinic, Salvation Army, Winona State University, and numerous other local healthcare, education, and community organizations in the Rochester area. The Rochester clinic is staffed with two Physicians and a Nurse Practitioner.

Phone: 507-529-0503

A free Community Heath Service Navigator is available to you when applying for medical assistance. Call Mary Lisa Estrada at 507-535-6229 or email

Fast-Tracker is a virtual community and health care connection resource. They connect individuals, families, mental health and substance use disorder providers, physicians, care coordinators, and others with a real-time, searchable directory of mental health and substance use disorder resources and their availability within Minnesota.

Health Access MN Health Access MN expands access to health care through expert enrollment assistance, outreach and training. You can schedule an appointment with one of their certified navigators for assistance with MNsure enrollment.

To make an appointment call 507-859-8649 or email

MNsure and Medical Insurance If you are uninsured you may be eligible to enroll in Medicaid and MNsure programs to gain access to low-cost health insurance coverage that meets your needs. When you apply for financial help through MNsure you will also find out if you qualify for Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care which provides low-cost to no-cost health insurance.

MNsure Health Insurance Application Assistance Free assistance is available to ALL individuals. Protect yourself and your family. Your health matters. Bilingual assistance is available.

Contact an MNsure Navigator at 507-289-5960 or

Planned Parenthood Planned Parenthood offers a range of telehealth services including birth control visits, STD care - including home STD testing kits, transgender hormone therapy, and more.

Phone: 507-288-5186

RCTC Dental Hygiene Clinic The RCTC Dental Hygiene Clinic provides preventative dental care including x-rays, cleaning, fluoride treatment and sealants. Most private insurance and MA plans. A modest fee is charged. Student discounts available.

Phone: 507-280-3169

Housing & Utilities

Emergency Rental Assistance The Rental Assistance Program has been combined with Emergency Assistance. If you need rent assistance, you may qualify for help even if you have already accessed Emergency in the last 12 months.

Applications will be available for online submission or for print through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Call 507-328-6500 with questions or for additional information. Combined Application Form

Energy Assistance Program (EAP) Energy Assistance is a federal program to help pay heating and electricity bills. Homeowners may also be eligible for a free heating system repair or replacement.  Energy Assistance is a program to help households pay heating and electricity bills. Assistance is available because people with low incomes might have a difficult time paying all of their bills and people must have heat and electricity in the winter in Minnesota. This help is for people of all ages with varying sources of income. Homeowners and renters who meet the income guidelines can get help. You should apply for help before you get a past due bill or run out of fuel. The program will not pay all of your heat or electric costs. You will need to make payments on your monthly bills also.

Energy Assistance Program through Three Rivers Community Action

Rental Assistance Olmsted County has several rental assistance programs including Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing.

RentHelp MN was created to help Minnesotans who have fallen behind on their rent or fear that could happen. Eligible Minnesota renters can receive help with rent and utility bills dated on or after March 13, 2020. If you qualify, you could receive up to 15 months total assistance.

Three Rivers Community Action: Back Rent Assistance currently has funding available to assist eligible households with past due rent who are not eligible for Rent Help MN. Please contact Three Rivers at 507-316-0610 or 800-277-8418 and request a referral for assistance with past due rent.

Salvation Army: Back Rent Assistance currently has funding available to assist with back rent. Please contact Stephanie Rice or Cindy Norgaard at Salvation Army at 507-288-3663.


The Landing MN, Inc. is a resource-based non-profit organization working to help those facing homelessness in the greater Rochester, Minnesota area. If you are in need of assistance seeking housing contact The Landing.

Coordinated Entry Point is a HUD and MN Housing mandate for certain types of funding that utilize HMIS (a homeless management information system). In order to access certain programs that receive funding from HUD or MN Housing, clients must be assessed and placed on the Coordinated Entry list. When openings occur, names are pulled from the Coordinated Entry list by their score for the program opening. If you are experiencing homelessness you can access the Coordinated Entry System through the following access sites:

Families and Single Adults


Single Adults

Unaccompanied Youth (persons under age 25)

Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence


Dorothy Day Hospitality House is a temporary homeless shelter conveniently located in downtown Rochester, Minnesota within walking distance to Mayo Clinic, buses, and community resources.

Phone: 507-282-5712

Family Promise Rochester has a program that provides shelter for homeless families with at least one minor child. Phone: 507-281-3122

Rochester Community Warming Center provides the most vulnerable residents with a safe and warm place to sleep during the winter months. The warming center is located at 200 4th Street SE in Rochester, Minnesota. It is in a strip mall across the street from the Government Center building. The warming center has sleeping space, shower stalls, restrooms, washers and dryers, and a kitchenette space. The warming center has sleeping spaces (bunk beds) for 42 people with appropriate spacing with COVID precautions. Guests are welcome from 8pm- 8am.

Women’s Shelter and Support Center serves women experiencing domestic abuse. 24-Hour Crisis Phone: 507-285-1010


Legal Assistance of Olmsted County Legal Assistance of Olmsted County provides free civil legal services to low income persons. Services include direct representation in the areas of family law and landlord tenant law, volunteer attorney program, legal clinics, and a landlord tenant hotline.

Phone: 507-287-2036


Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services provides free, high-quality legal help to low-income people in critical civil matters.

Phone: 507-292-0080


Mental Health

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime. Crisis Text Line is here for any crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from our secure online platform. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.

Crisis Response for Southeast Minnesota Crisis Response services are available 24/7 to anyone, anywhere within the 10-county area of southeastern Minnesota — regardless of their ability to pay. You can access help through our 24/7 hotline (1-844-274-7472) and our new 24/7 walk-in crisis center, the Southeast Regional Crisis Center.

Campus-Based Mental Health Services A licensed mental health therapist from Zumbro Valley Health Center (ZVHC) is available to both RCTC and WSU-Rochester students. ZVHC services are confidential and all records are kept separate from RCTC Health Services records.

Current RCTC and WSU-R students can go to to schedule appointments with a mental health therapist. Just select the service needed, choose from the available days and times, and enter your information. You will receive an email confirmation of your appointment. If you have questions, call us at 507-285-7261.


The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.

The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

Who Is Eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

A household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income internet program;
  • Participates in one of these assistance programs:
    • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools.
    • SNAP
    • Medicaid
    • Federal Housing Assistance, including:
      • Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program (Section 8 Vouchers)
      • Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)/Section 202/ Section 811
      • Public Housing
      • Affordable Housing Programs for American Indians, Alaska Natives or Native Hawaiians
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • WIC
    • Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits
    • or Lifeline;
  • Participates in one of these assistance programs and lives on Qualifying Tribal lands:
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    • Tribal TANF
    • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    • Tribal Head Start (income based)

Broadband Access for Students For students who do not have broadband internet access at home, several service providers have created opportunities for college students to get free internet including installation.

For students in Rochester, Charter (Spectrum) Communications is offering: Free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days in home with K-12 and/or college students that don’t have an existing Spectrum service level up to 100 Mbps. Spectrum Internet Assist program.

Comcast is creating options for more wireless and data access for subscribers and non-subscribers, including free Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide for all and unlimited data for their subscribers.  Comcast Internet Essential program.

Minnesota Employment and Economic Development Office of Broadband Development has additional information and resources on reduced rates for Broadband Services.

PCs for People PCs for People provides affordable computers and low-cost internet for eligible individuals.

Rochester Community and Technical College Information Technology The College has a limited amount of technology available for student use including windows laptops, headsets with microphones, webcams, and wireless internet hotspots. Complete the technology request form. If technology is available, stop by the Technology Support Center at the main RCTC campus from 8am-4:30pm, use the Atrium entrance. Please bring a Student ID when coming to campus. Only the doors to the Atrium entrance will be open.

Email if you have questions.


Rochester Public Transit (RPT) RCTC Students can use their student ID to ride any RPT route at any time.

Rolling Hills Transport Rolling Hills Transport provides low-cost Daily or weekly transportation to and from Rochester (and between other cities) within Dodge, Winona, Filmore, Houston, and Olmsted counties. One-time transportation is also available; 48-hours notice is required.

For more information or call 1-800-528-7622

Work & Employment

CareerForce (Minnesota Workforce Center) CareerForce is Minnesota's career development and talent matching resource dedicated to success. They guide people toward rewarding careers, connect individuals to opportunities, and provide valuable economic and employment development information for employers.

Phone: 507-292-5152


211 Basic Needs Resources Hub

Rochester Community and Technical College and Minnesota State have partnered with United Way 211 to establish a statewide basic needs resource hub. The basic needs resource hub provides Rochester Community and Technical College students access to basic needs resources and support available on campus and in the community via phone, text, or chat 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  

United Way 211 provides free and confidential health and human services information. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to connect you with the resources and information you need. If you’re looking for information about services available in your community for you or a loved one, they can help. 

Text MNHELP to 898-211(TXT211) or call 211 (toll free at 1-800-543-7709) to speak with one of their highly trained information and referral specialists. Your call is completely confidential, and they have call menus in English, Spanish, and Hmong. Interpreters are also available for any language.  

Visit the 211 website to learn more or to explore resources and support that may be available.  


Free Tax Preparation

Low- and moderate-income households have two free tax filing options! Thousands of low-income households access this necessary service for free, improving access to tax credits and bringing dollars back into our community in the form of tax refunds.

The VITA Program is brought to you by partnering sponsors 125 Live and Salvation Army to provide free tax preparation services for taxpayers in Olmsted and Dodge Counties (participating sites listed below). United Way’s 211 is proud to serve as your appointment scheduling hub

Learn more at


RCTC Student SNAP Screening Form

We have developed the  RCTC Student SNAP Screening Form to help you determine if you may be eligible for benefits. This is only a screening tool. The results are kept confidential and only indicate if you may be eligible to receive benefits. If you are eligible, you will have the option to share your email address so that someone can contact you and assist you with the next step of the SNAP application.


Bridges to Benefits

Bridge to Benefits Screening Tool is a project by Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota to improve the well-being of families and individuals by linking them to public work support programs and tax credits. By answering a few simple questions, you will be able to see if you or someone else may be eligible for public work support programs. They will NOT ask you for information that identifies you. It’s easy, confidential, and free! NOTE: This screening tool does not determine eligibility. It is only a guideline. After using this screening tool, you must apply to each program to be sure you are eligible.

Find food assistance, help to pay bills, and other free or reduced-cost programs, including new programs for the COVID-19 pandemic using


We are here to help!

Anfa Diiriye, Engagement and Inclusion CoordinatorAnfa Diiriye
Engagement and Inclusion Coordinator