With so many lives upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Maryland’s Student Crisis Fund has been working hard to help fellow Terps fulfill their needs. Much progress has been made, but the work must continue.
During the pandemic, many University of Maryland students have experienced financial hardships. For some, it was a loss of income. For others, unexpected medical expenses. Many others incurred new expenses from temporary living arrangements.
While the challenges students and other members of the University of Maryland community face are complex and costly, the university is seeking to help ease these financial pressures through the UMD Student Crisis Fund.
“We want to make sure that we have enough support to be able to get assistance out to every student impacted by COVID-19, but we also know that there are just general crises that our students face regardless of the pandemic,” says Ed Kenny, director of development and external relations in UMD’s Division of Student Affairs, which oversees the fund. “As we ramp up back into the fall and spring, students are going to have significant needs and we want to be there for them.”
Established in 2001, the UMD Student Crisis Fund, which is funded by donations, has served as a resource for students to receive financial assistance during times of crisis. Between March and July 31, more than $1,000,000 has been distributed to nearly 2,000 students representing every college and school, with the average student receiving roughly $500 in aid.
What makes the Student Crisis Fund effective, Kenny says, is its ability to get financial support in the hands of students as quickly as possible. Students can request help through an online application that is reviewed by the Vice President of Student Affairs office and responded to within a few days. From there, if approved, students will receive funds within two to three days, Kenny says.
With about 550 students still awaiting help, every donation received is immediately given out, says Maryland Smith’s Chris Dax. Meeting this demand is critical and all contributions to the fund can go a long way, he says.
“Contributions of $50 from 10 different people can help us reach our goal of $500 per student, but any participation carries impact and even the smallest of donations can help change lives,” says Dax, assistant dean of Development and Alumni Relations.
For those who are willing and able to provide support, the most efficient way to help is by donating through the online portal, Dax says. He encourages members of the Maryland Smith community to stay engaged and help Terps in need in any way they can.
“This is the moment to support Maryland students and showcase the power of the Smith community, says Dax.
“We must react to the humanistic needs of others and help people who are part of our family.”