Southeast Missouri State University student publication

University creates emergency relief fund; supports students during COVID-19 pandemic

Sunday, April 12, 2020
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Photo by Karis Gamble

Students of the southeast community have expressed the need for financial assistance as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

To help meet that need, university advancement services partnered with other university departments to create an emergency relief fund to support students during this time.

Trudy Lee, interim vice president for university advancement and executive director of the University Foundation said her department was informed about students’ needs from professors, faculty, the Dean of Students, advisors, the Office of Admissions and students.

Some needs listed include money for efficient technology for online learning, preparing to live off campus so suddenly and unexpected travel expenses.

Lee said the fund was established after departments such as the dean of students and the Department of Enrollment Management and Student Success, as well as some Southeast alumni, were looking to help students in need.

She said her department is mostly responsible for fundraising. Departments located in Academic Hall such as Student Financial Services and the office of the Dean of Students were in charge of identifying who is in need of the funds and distributing them.

Matthew Kearney, director of Student Financial Services said there are a number of faculty and staff who know about the fund and are able to refer students in need to Student Financial Services. SFS staff also lead eligible students through the process when they get in contact with them.

In an email from Kearney, he said to receive funding, “students need to have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and exhausted all of their student aid options through there, which includes any Federal or state grants, as well as student loans.”

Kearney said in a typical year, SFS is usually able to grant $300 to $500 to a student for unexpected needs such as job loss, medical bills and car repairs.

“While the amounts may not seem life-changing, oftentimes these emergency situations that come up can be life-altering if it means a student isn't able to focus on their studies,” Kearney said.

The fund was made public March 27 on the University’s newswire website, where the goal was to fundraise $5,000. With a large amount of early donations, the university has raised the goal to $10,000.

“It’s a lot of gifts that range from $15 to $5,000 dollars, so we are very gratified that so many people want to help our students,” Lee said.

She said donors have ranged from alumni to faculty and staff to community members and even other students.

Lee said the goal may continue to rise based on the number of donations received.

To learn more about the emergency relief fund or to make a donation, visit impact.semo.edu/campaigns/emergencyrelief/. Students in need of financial assistance can contact Student Financial Services at sfs@semo.edu.

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