Student requests climb for COVID-19 emergency fund

Since the fund was established in mid-March, a total of $380,000 has been awarded to students.

Illustrated+by+Morgan+La+Casse

Morgan La Casse

Illustrated by Morgan La Casse

Farrah Mina

As of last week, the University of Minnesota Foundation has disbursed $380,000 to students from an emergency fund set up in mid-March to support student finances amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last month, the COVID-19 relief fund has received more than 1,000 inquiries from students requesting emergency assistance, said Julie Selander, One Stop Student Services director, in an email to the Minnesota Daily. Last year, there were around 40 requests for emergency funds in total.

Out of 725 applications, close to 600 students have received the emergency funding so far, Selander said. Awards have ranged between $200 and $800, with most students citing loss of wages as the primary reason for needing emergency financial assistance. The funds help them cover rent, food, technology and medical expenses. 

Students can request the COVID-19 relief fund through One Stop or their academic adviser. 

Fourth-year student Cassidy Drummond applied for the fund after her hours at both of her jobs were cut. She learned about the fund from social media, and after applying, Drummond received $500 from the relief fund to cover rent. 

Katharine Hackney, a fourth-year student, also applied for funds to buy food. She received $200.

Though there has been a high demand from students, the funds have not been depleted yet, Selander said.

The Graduate School recently added $50,000 to the emergency fund, specifically for graduate and professional students, President Joan Gabel said in a letter to the Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Graduate Student Writing Group. The Office for Equity and Diversity also contributed $50,000 intended for underrepresented undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

“The amount of funding left is ever changing as we continue to receive deposits from the President’s emergency fund for students and we have been adding new collegiate funds periodically,” Selander said in the email.

Provost Rachel Croson has also recommended that a portion of the CARES Act aid be added into the emergency fund, President Gabel said in the letter. 

The University is estimated to receive $36 million from the stimulus bill, half of which is intended for students.

“Requests from students for emergency funding are continuing to come into One Stop on a daily basis,” Selander said in the email. “Our hope is that we will continue to receive funding from various sources so that the University can continue to assist students during this crisis.”