Whole Health Focus: Student Emergency Fund

Free Public Domain Cc0 Photo.
Free Public Domain Cc0 Photo.

Picture this: you’re in your second year as a student at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. You are not only studying for exams, but you’re also working to support your family and pay your bills and tuition. The week before tuition is due you find out you unexpectedly have to replace the transmission in the family car – now you’re frantically deciding between paying your tuition or fixing the car so you can support your family.

No one wants to find themselves in situations like the one above, but sometimes things happen, and they can’t be avoided. Those things that can’t be avoided are the exact reason the Student Emergency Fund was created in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need for an official program to provide aid to our students in emergent situations became very apparent during the pandemic,” Joseph said. “We created the Student Emergency Fund to ensure our students were cared for.”

Although there was a pre-existing student assistant program, there was no formal process to award money to students and many didn’t even know it existed. This donor-backed fund was designed to help HSC students who have found themselves in temporary emergency financial situations. To receive money from this fund, students must fill out an application and meet certain criteria – the situation must be truly emergent and out of the student’s control; the student has maxed out their financial assistance through financial aid; they are enrolled at HSC at the time they’re applying. The Student Emergency Fund must also be the last resort for students. They need to have exhausted their other financial assistance – grants, scholarships, student loans – prior to applying.

Once the students complete the application, they meet with Joseph within the following 48 hours to discuss their circumstances, any additional documentation needed and the next steps for getting them the money they need. Joseph explained that the process from start to finish usually takes about a week, sometimes two, pending any additional paperwork.

At this present time, there is no limit on how many times a student can apply for aid from the Student Emergency Fund. As long as the student’s situation meets the criteria, they are able to apply again for aid.

The Financial Impact on Education

 “Our students enrolled at HSC to get an education,” Jeremy Joseph, director of the Student Assistance Resource Center said. “They should be focused on their academics, not worrying about making financial ends meet.”

When it comes to finances and whole health, Joseph says the connection is obvious. If a student is struggling financially, their mind isn’t in a place to focus on their studies and things snowball from there. A financial health issue can quickly turn into a mental and emotional health issue when the stress of making ends meet takes over a student’s thoughts. Struggling financially can also lead to physical health issues if the student is skipping daily workouts or activities to work extra hours to make more money.

“To me, there’s no doubt that these pillars are interconnected,” Joseph remarked. “Financial stability can deteriorate quickly, causing an equally rapid deterioration on the other pillars of Whole Health.

“I’m so thankful HSC took the steps to establish this fund, so our students know they have a place to turn to when they are in an emergent financial situation.”

If you or any other student at HSC are in an emergent financial situation, please visit: this page and fill out the Student Emergency Fund Application. If you are interested in giving to the student emergency fund, please click here and select “Student Emergency Fund.”

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