New Students Emergency Fund: covering more than just COVID

A new Student Emergency Fund that helps students in need of financial support has opened as of the 2021 spring semester. Unlike the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund, this emergency fund is broader in its definition of an emergency.

“After the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund closed in Summer 2020, the Office of University Development continued to cultivate and build relationships with donors expressing interest for supporting MSU students who experience immediate financial hardship as a result of an emergency situation, regardless of whether or not the emergency related to the pandemic,” Matthew Park, associate vice president and dean of students, said. “Support was received to create the new Student Emergency Fund, which launched at the start of the spring 2021 semester. Supplementing the availability of existing emergency aid programs at MSU Texas such as the Mustangs Pantry and Canan Food Security program.” 

No funds from the university’s annual operating budget is used for this emergency fund as it is fully funded by donors. The student emergency fund will continue to distribute financial aid to students as long as the emergency fund keeps receiving donations to support the program.

“An individual student can receive funds once per academic year. There is not a limit on the number of applications a student can submit; only that once a student’s application has been approved, no further applications from the same student are accepted for the remainder of the same academic year,” Park said. “The maximum award is $250. There is a question on the application form for students to enter the amount requested [up to $250]. If a student were to enter an amount less than $250 and their application is approved, they would receive the amount they requested. Most applicants request $250.”

To apply students must go to the student emergency fund page on the MSU Texas website and fill out the application. Park says the application asks for students to provide their contact information, a detailed description of their emergency and the essential expense(s) for which they are requesting assistance and to upload/attach documentation.

“It was pretty easy [to apply]. It asks you questions about why you need it and if you want a specific amount,” Emma Perkins, marketing sophomore, said.

According to the student emergency fund page, to be eligible the student must be enrolled at MSU Texas during the time of the application and have experienced a financial hardship resulting from an emergency that has to be taken care of right away.

“An emergency is defined as, ‘An unexpected and/or unforeseen expense, event or circumstance that could cause a loss of momentum toward student success,’” Park said. “Examples of essential expenses that may be considered for emergency funding include housing (e.g. rent or emergency shelter), food and/or water (e.g. groceries), prescriptions, health and/or medical expenses, utilities (e.g. electricity, natural gas, water/sewer), transportation-related expenses (e.g. tire repair, insurance deductible from an accident) and replacement of essential items due to accident, fire, natural disaster or theft (e.g. eyeglasses, clothing, school supplies, etc.).”

Expenses that are not eligible would be university tuition and/or fees, car payments or insurance premiums. Eligibility is checked through the selection process.   

“After each application is received, an initial review is conducted to ensure a student and the request meets the eligibility requirements. Any application denied during the initial review is responded to with information concerning why the application was denied, including if any items were incomplete or missing so a student can update their application and re-apply, if interested,” Park said. “After the initial review, a committee comprised of university staff representing student services, support services and financial areas review and vote on each application case-by-case. A simple majority vote is required for funding approval.”

Since announced last month 38 students have received funds according to Park.

“I think it is [important] especially right now…so I think it’s really cool that the school is able to help us out,” Perkins said.