A crashed laptop, car trouble, or sudden medical bills can leave any budget feeling stretched. For students, these costs can be detrimental and put housing payments and food expenses at risk.
Similarly, when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed people out of offices and classrooms and into virtual spaces, it brought with it the cost of upgrading computers and internet connections and getting webcams, printers, and other equipment to make work possible.
Student concerns about these expenses are what prompted the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy to create a new fund specifically to help students navigate unexpected financial hardships.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the surface how vulnerable we all are to financial turbulence, and we want to support our students through those difficult times to give them the best chance we can to be successful in their studies and future careers,” says Professor Dave Mott (BS ’88, MS ’92, PhD ’95), associate dean for Advancement. “Fortunately, our alumni and friends of the School agree.”
“We want to support our students through those difficult times to give them the best chance we can to be successful in their studies and future careers.”
The new Student Emergency Fund at the School of Pharmacy, created through donations by alumni and friends, is designed to provide a safety net to students facing sudden expenses that threaten their ability to pay for food or rent, continue their education, or be successful in their studies.
“We see a handful of students each year who suddenly find themselves without housing or transportation or have another financial barrier impacting their ability to be academically successful,” says Rebecca Beebe, senior student services coordinator.
In the past, those students have had access to a short-term loan program through the School of Pharmacy, which grants up to $2,000 that students can pay back within six months to a year. The loan program is a particularly good fit for students who are waiting for financial aid to come through and need to secure housing or pay another large bill in the interim.
“The Student Emergency Fund will be another tool to provide support for students in crisis,” says Beebe.
There is no minimum or maximum disbursement per student through the Student Emergency Fund, which can be used in tandem with the short-term loan program, and it’s open to students of any degree program at the School of Pharmacy.
“Our students strive for excellence, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to establish this fund to further support their commitment to their education.”
—Dean Steve Swanson
Students facing a hardship can submit an application describing their financial situation, and then Beebe and the School’s Student Services staff will review their information and decide if a grant from the Student Emergency Fund or a short-term loan would be the best fit.
When Kenneth Miller (BS ‘64, PhD ‘69), one of the first alumni to donate to the fund, heard that School of Pharmacy Dean Steve Swanson wanted to establish a fund to soften the blow of students’ unexpected expenses, he thought it was a great idea, especially as many student employment opportunities have been compromised by the pandemic.
“Given the crazy COVID year we have been experiencing, I’m not surprised that students are facing more money problems than normal,” says Miller, who also helped create a fund in honor of the Lost Boys of Pharmacology.
“Our students strive for excellence, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to establish this fund to further support their commitment to their education,” says Dean Swanson. “I’m even more proud of how wholeheartedly our alumni stand behind the success of our students.”