Student Emergency Fund provides financial assistance in extraordinary circumstances

Students can apply for grants up to $1,000 for special financial assistance. (Photo by Ian Morse ’17)

Whether its an illness, an emergency plane ticket home or the death of an immediate family member, The Student Emergency Fund Program is in place to assist students experiencing hardship due to catastrophic events or other extenuating circumstances. 

The program, which was established about a year and a half ago according to President Alison Byerly, was most recently dedicated to long-time and recently retired college administrators Dr. Jim and Donna Krivoski. 

“When they retired there was a desire to honor them so that came together in a discussion amongst administrators and trustees about the idea of creating a fund that would be named in their honor that would be a student support fund,” Byerly said.

The fund is meant to provide assistance to students who are facing extraordinary circumstances that may require the need for additional funding that normal financial aid does not take into account.

“Emergency funds are available for unanticipated emergency expenses, which does not include tuition or books, for example, since those are anticipated expenses involved in attending college,” Chaplain Alex Hendrickson explained in and email. “Examples of requests that have been approved include travel expenses for funerals of immediate family members [parents or siblings] or emergency medical expenses not covered by health insurance.”

The program has been funded through a grant from PNC Bank as well as a number of trustees and administrators who made starting gifts, according to Byerly. As of now, students are eligible for grants up to $1,000 per academic year that do not need to be repaid, however, Byerly also added that the highest priority of the program will be spreading the grants across as many needs as possible.

“We think this is a good start in what we hope will be an ongoing process of finding ways to create some flexible funding for those kinds of things that crop up whether it’s a family emergency and you need a plane ticket home or things of that nature that don’t fall within normal budgets,” Byerly said. 

Byerly said that while the college has tried to support students on a case-by-case basis when needs would arise, this fund is the first time the college has had a specific endowed fund being built directly for the purpose of emergency student support as opposed to money being pulled from various budgets, such as student life, when said needs would arise.

“When you have an endowed fund you have a corpus of money that sits there, and the interest that it earns you can spend year after year,” Byerly said. This means that as the money in the fund grows, the college will have more to draw from in the future.

While PNC Bank contributes to the fund, they are not involved in the awarding of financial assistance, according to Hendrickson. The distributions rather, are decided by Hendrickson, the Dean of Students, Christopher Hunt, and the Office of Financial Aid. 

Students are able to submit a request for themselves through a form on Laf Sync. Hendrickson said that while a professor or peer can encourage another student to apply for the funding, the application should be submitted by the student who is seeking the funds.

Hendrickson and Hunt sent an email to the Lafayette Community this past Tuesday reminding students of the existence and purpose of the fund as the school year progresses.

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