by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Staff Reporter
Due to the distress that COVID-19 has put on students, Roosevelt University decided to lift some weight off of students’ shoulders by providing a “Laker Emergency Grant.”
Linda Davis, the associate director for academic advising and a member of the grant fund committee, explained that the Laker Grant is available to students “experiencing temporary financial hardship that is directly related to changes made by the university” because of COVID-19.
She said that the Laker Grant Fund provides “limited financial assistance to currently enrolled Roosevelt University students who need immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship related to an unforeseen situation.” Moreover, the fund is “designated to off-set a short-term financial need and is not intended to replace or supplement financial aid.”
Therefore, the types of expenses that are considered can be technology, overdue rent or utilities, medical, dental or other health-related emergencies. The fund can also be granted for the replacement of lost personal items in a natural disaster, travel cost related to bereavement and other safety-related needs.
However, the fund does not consider expenses such as tuition and fees, on-campus housing, health insurance, credit card expenses, parking tickets and other fines and recreational and non-emergency expenses.
“I believe that the grant is a great way that the university is able to support students who are affected by COVID-19. For many students, it is one less thing they need to stress about during this difficult time,” said Davis.
Kamaria Grayson, 17, a freshman marketing major said, “I think that it’s a great tool for students at this time because everything is happening so fast.”
Moreover, the application indicated that “funds are awarded as a grant, and unlike a loan, do not need to be repaid. Funds may count as income and may be subject to federal and/or state taxes.”
In order to be eligible, the applicant must be enrolled at Roosevelt University and be in good academic standing. The applicant must have also utilized all eligible financial aid options.
Therefore, in order to receive funding, applicants must also provide supporting documentation that indicates financial hardship. These documents can be medical bills, eviction notices, police reports or other forms of receipts for covered expenses.
Funding requests can range from $25 to $500 and all requests may not be fully funded. Students are also limited to receiving a maximum amount of $500 every year.
“Grants like this are necessary to support our students during this time,” said Kaelyn Schulz, 33, an academic advisor at Roosevelt University. “I am encouraging all those I advise to request aid if they need it. These funds can help cover wifi or computer needs or cover necessities like utilities that can’t be paid because a student lost his/her job.”
“This is a trying time for all of us and there is a lot of uncertainty. Let your advisors and faculty know what you need, we want to support you and we look forward to being together on campus as soon as it is safe again,” Schulz said.
Indeed, the application can be completed online and submitted as a form to the office of the dean of students for further review. An email will then be sent to the student’s email within five business days with a decision. If approved, the funds will be available to the student’s account or preferred method within two to three business days. “If a request does not provide enough information for the committee to make a determination, the committee will contact the student requesting additional information,” as the COVID-19 FAQ website said.
“I encourage students to work with their advisor when completing the form and provide ample supporting documentation. The more detailed the application, the easier it is for the committee to say ‘yes’ and the sooner they can receive the funds they need,” Schulz said.
Davis spoke on the changes she has seen since the grant became available for Roosevelt students.
“I have seen many students who are able to succeed in their courses because they were able to purchase their access code for class. Additionally, I have seen students who didn’t know how they would pay their rent, but the grant was able to help them secure housing and focus on their schoolwork.”
As of April 8, the Roosevelt community contributed over $50,000 to the Laker Grant and more than $23,000 has already been distributed to students, according to an email sent by the dean of students.
The email also encouraged others to consider donating.
“I believe that with the new marketing efforts from the university, advisors, dean of students and many other offices, now students know that they are able to utilize the grant,” said Davis.
Moreover, Grayson spoke on the importance of the grant being offered to students during these unprecedented times.
“It’s important because some kids have had to do a complete 360 in only a matter of days and don’t have the resources available to them. So with this grant, it makes sure the students know that Roosevelt cares,” said Grayson, adding that she didn’t submit an application because she feels that the money should go to someone who “truly” needs it.
“Right now we need to support each other and not be too proud to ask for help. This grant is one of the many ways Roosevelt can show students we are here for you and want you to feel safe and supported,” said Schulz.