When the COVID-19 pandemic led the University of Michigan to move classes online in mid-March, students in Ann Arbor were asked to return home to their permanent residences as soon as possible. LSA recognized that many students would face serious financial challenges as a result, including travel costs and technology tools for virtual learning. The college moved immediately to make some of the dean’s discretionary funds available to students who might need help.
Around 120 awards totaling $135,000 have already been made to students; individual awards have ranged from $200 to $2,500. Anticipating continued student need through the spring and summer semesters, the college has reopened the LSA Student Emergency Fund (314649).
Students continue to request support for a variety of expenses, including rent for off-campus housing and utilities for which they remain responsible, even if they’ve left Ann Arbor; travel expenses incurred when returning to their permanent residences; food/groceries; laptops and laptop repairs necessary to fully support the software used for virtual learning; and high-speed internet access so that they may fully participate in online learning. And, because students are now unable to travel for internships or study abroad, many are applying to take spring and summer courses online.
The LSA Student Emergency Fund is making a direct impact by helping LSA students dealing with the stress and uncertainty of these immediate financial hardships.
The team from the LSA Scholarships Office (pictured above) jumped into action to make sure students had the resources they needed when the COVID-19 crisis started. The photo was taken before Michigan's shelter-in-place order took effect.
One LSA student who received a scholarship from the LSA Student Emergency Fund to help with basic living expenses, including rent and groceries, lost both of her part-time jobs with museums when they were closed to the public in March. She doesn’t expect to be able to return to work until the summer and, now that her father has been laid off and her mother is recovering from COVID-19, she is not able to turn to her parents for financial relief. The LSA Student Emergency Fund alleviated some of the stress she's feeling about finding money to live so that she could better focus on her studies for the remainder of the semester.
Another student, whose personal savings was exhausted while helping a parent pay medical bills and living expenses during a cancer fight last year, is now facing his own financial emergency. A scholarship from the LSA Student Emergency Fund will help him cover the rent on his off-campus apartment while he weathers the COVID-19 storm. He is determined to live by his family’s motto: "Tough times don't last, tough people do.”
Thanks to the generosity of LSA alumni, the fund is growing. Donors say they are moved to give by the feeling that current college students could be one of the populations most deeply impacted by the crisis—socially, emotionally, and financially. “The thought of students being away from home and family, then having one of the most significant and formative experiences of their lives torn away so suddenly is heartbreaking,” said one donor.