How the Mansfield Student Emergency Aid Fund Helps Students Continue their Education during COVID-19
Early on in the shutdowns that occurred as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), a first-year Mansfield student relying on a job to help pay for college was uncertain if he could continue to work. He was fortunate to be an essential employee, but his car was in desperate need for repair.
This is when he applied for assistance from The Ohio State University at Mansfield Student Emergency Aid Fund. The committee, comprised of Ohio State staff, awarded him the funds needed for the repairs.
“This is going to let me continue my livelihood,” the student shared when he received the funding. “Now I can get my car fixed and return to being an employee. Helping me fix my car is a huge deal to me.”
The pandemic has affected students in an unprecedented way. Students are now faced with new challenges and needs while they focus on continuing their education in a virtual environment. The Student Emergency Fund helps students facing financial burdens throughout the school year, and an increasing number are applying for the funds during these uncertain times.
An anonymous donor created the Student Emergency Fund in 2015 to help students afford academic experiences like study abroad and conferences, but as it became clear that students had a broader set of needs, staff worked with the donor to adjust the focus of the fund.
“Over time, the emergency fund on campus has broadened to include all the needs of students that might impact their ability to be here, be present and get their education,” said Donna Hight, assistant dean, student success.
Current needs vary depending on work and home situations. Many students who made their living in food service lost their jobs or needed to stay near campus because they were unable to return home. Requests center on assistance paying rent, buying food or paying monthly bills due to lost income and family struggles.
Prior to the pandemic, more than 40% of students at Ohio State Mansfield were eligible for Pell Grants, which means they already showed a high level of financial need. Director of Enrollment Services Jennifer Fry said that before the outbreak, the committee reviewing student applications for aid saw a great deal of need in one specific area.
“I’d say one of the big things this year has been food insecurity,” Fry explained.
More students have been expressing trouble affording the nutritious food they need to perform well in school, and this need has been exacerbated by the pandemic. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of groceries rose more than 2.5% during April alone. People are struggling to put enough food on the table, especially those who have lost jobs because of the outbreak.
To give to the Student Emergency Aid Fund and help students in need, please visit https://mansfield.osu.edu/giving.