UW Tacoma was able to cater to the financial need of students by establishing an Emergency Aid Fund. This was achieved after extensive research from concerned individuals, the collective involvement of various university departments and the funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Students who have their requests approved can claim access to the Emergency Aid Fund to tackle unforeseen circumstances that could potentially hamper their academic performance. If a student is in urgent need of money for something such as paying their housing rent or a means for food, they can approach the Student Engagement or Student Services department of UWT for financial support. However, the aid cannot be used for tuition fees.
With assistance provided by an international consulting firm — Reos Partners — UWT was able to collaborate with UW Seattle, Austin Community College, Florida International University and Lorain County Community College to accelerate the implementation of this project to have it operational by October 2017.
The Dean of Students, Ed Mirecki, is one of the leading administrative heads of this program. He described that the focus of the Emergency Aid Fund is to promote a positive culture amongst UWT community, instilling the belief in students that the institution can help them through challenging situations.
“A part of the philosophy behind this is creating a sense of self-advocacy for the students to know that asking for help is a strength,” Mirecki said. “If students are struggling with an emergency, if there are things in their life that are happening and taking the student’s focus away from their studies, then let us know. There are number of ways that we can aid and assist students in need.”
The online form is open to all local and international students of UWT, under the financial aid section of the main UWT website. It can be completed quickly due to the non-lengthy nature of the form, and students can expect contact from a member of Student Financial Aid within approximately 24 hours after submission.
Kathleen Farrell, associate vice chancellor for the Student Services and Administration, stated why this project could prove crucial for some students. She specified that the need to assist students in such situations can reduce the negative impact on their performances in the classroom.
“I do think this program is a perfect example of UW Tacoma’s mission being brought to life,” Farrell said. “We have talented, ambitious and motivated students, but life still gets in the way. So how can we help them when life can possibly derail their greatest dreams?”
It was learned through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard that 3.9 million students dropped out of universities in 2015–2016 due to financial constraints. This alarming fact led to the much needed urgency to implement a counter-measure that can contribute in reducing the dropout rate in the coming years.
UWT has so far successfully helped over 20 students since the inception of this project and plans to assist many more. In their efforts to attain maximum public outreach, they are trying to improve on how to best advertise the Emergency Funding Aid across the campus.
Students can help by providing the online form link below to someone they personally know who is struggling and/or in need of immediate support.
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