Published February 22, 2018
UB will enhance its efforts to ensure that students experiencing unforeseen financial hardships are able to stay on track toward graduation, thanks to a new grant.
UB has received $100,000 from the Gerstner Family Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation for Children to enhance the student emergency fund program. The grant was secured through a partnership with the SUNY Impact Foundation. UB is one of seven SUNY campuses to receive funding through the program, which will award grants to eligible students who are experiencing unforeseen hardships that could impact their ability to stay in school.
“We are honored to receive these funds to better serve the needs of our students,” says A. Scott Weber, vice president for student life. “These emergency funds will undoubtedly help many students see their degrees through and keep them on the path to a successful future.”
Students who leave college do so because they are overextended and overwhelmed, “many times because they experience financial hardship while managing the countless stressors of being a student,” says Benjamin Fabian, assistant director, Student Conduct and Advocacy. Fabian notes that while 65 percent of students who drop out plan to return to school, ultimately only 38 percent do.
“Emergency financial assistance for students when they experience a crisis or some kind of unanticipated hardship can be the saving grace that keeps them connected to the university so that they can complete their degree,” he says.
The emergency funds will be designated to offset such short-term financial needs as rent, utilities, transportation and food. Qualifying emergency situations include a death in the family, being a victim of a crime or accident, loss of property or income, or unanticipated educational expenses.
The new Gerstner and Heckscher Student Emergency Fund is now the second program UB offers for emergency student assistance. The Office of the Vice President for Student Life currently makes $15,000 available to students in need every year through the UB Student Life Emergency Gift Fund, which is supported by gifts from the UB Fund for Student Life and the Random Acts of Kindness Fund.
During the past academic year, only a third of requests for emergency assistance could be funded, says Colleen Connolly, associate director, Student Conduct and Advocacy, noting that with the new fund, more eligible requests will be able to be accommodated. These emergency grants not only keep students in school, but are more likely to help motivate graduates to become engaged alumni, Connolly adds.
“The generous donation from the family foundations provides UB the opportunity to drastically enhance the emergency fund program that Student Life has managed for nearly 20 years,” Weber says. “Undergraduate students will directly benefit from the Gerstner and Heckscher Student Emergency Fund, while the UB Student Life Emergency Gift Fund can be more readily available to graduate students, who are not eligible for the new grant funds.”
Adds Elizabeth Lidano, director, Student Conduct and Advocacy: “Our emergency fund program has been sustained over many years by the generous support of all parts of the UB community: faculty, staff, parents, students and alumni. We are thankful to be able to add the Gerstner and Heckscher families to this group. “
Students who may be in financial need can visit the Student Life Gateway for eligibility requirements for both funds and to fill out an application.
UB faculty and staff can support the student emergency fund program by making a donation on the Giving to UB website.