Emergency fund lifts struggling students

Business special section: A new fund founded last year during the pandemic has become a permanent service at the college.

young woman carrying heavy box on back

A new fund founded last year during the pandemic offers a helping hand to struggling students. Photo illustration by Shutterstock/Blake Dinsdale.

Published on Show Me Mizzou August 19, 2021

Last spring, a Trulaske professor noticed a student Zooming into online classes every week from a parked car. Reaching out to see what was going on, he learned the student had lost his housing and had been couch surfing at friends’ apartments. Because of a new fund at the college, the professor could offer something more than sympathy — the student could apply for emergency financial help.

“When we realized that a large group of Trulaske students was having financial difficulty and having a hard time staying in their academic programs, we partnered with the Walker Foundation to establish the Trulaske College of Business Student Emergency Fund,” says Gay Albright, the college’s associate dean of undergraduate programs. As word spread, applications started coming in, revealing the serious financial stresses students were coping with. Some had lost their jobs or could no longer rely on family support. Others faced unexpected medical bills, car repairs or school expenses.

So far, the fund has paid out $128,278, helping 33 students overcome financial obstacles and continue their education. Unlike scholarships and other long-term financial aid, this fund responds to short-term problems. Even after the pandemic subsides, it will remain in place.

“We now have a fund we can tap into to help students through personal financial crises,” says Jeremy Diener, executive director for advancement at the college. The Walker Foundation matches gifts to the fund at 50%. Diener hopes to see this effort grow through a Mizzou Give Direct entry.

By the Numbers:
Student Emergency Fund
The Problems

During the pandemic, Trulaske students faced a range of financial challenges for which they needed emergency assistance. These included unforeseen medical expenses, hospitalizations and surgeries; car repairs for commuting to work; loss of job or reduced work hours due to COVID; parents losing jobs or hours due to COVID; and upgraded Wi-Fi needed for online learning.

The Relief

Fall 2020 semester
29 students applied for emergency funds 23 received an award $88,658 in emergency aid provided
Spring 2021 semester
16 students applied 9 received an award $34,620 provided Summer 2021 semester 1 student applied 1 received an award $5,000 provided
Summer 2021 semester
1 student applied 1 received an award $5,000 provided

Total to date: $128,278 provided to 33 students

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