The University of Toledo is coordinating emergency financial assistance programs for current students experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic through existing financial aid processes.
“We know many of our students are struggling due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and want to get this financial relief to them as quickly as possible,” said Gina Roberts, assistant vice president of enrollment management. “We’ve compiled emergency funds available for students and have streamlined the application process to expedite the distribution in an effort to assist as many students as possible.”
UToledo is expected to receive $13.5 million in funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help mitigate financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this total, $6.7 million will be used to immediately assist current students experiencing financial hardships caused by the pandemic. The funding can be used for immediate needs, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare and childcare.
Students enrolled for spring 2020 who received a federal Pell Grant will receive a one-time grant of $500, and no application is required. About one-third of the federal relief dollars will be used to prioritize aid to these students.
All current students need to use the existing Rocket Aid application to request CARES funds. To be eligible to receive CARES funding, a student needs to be eligible to receive federal aid by having a valid Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or equivalent documentation on file. The Office of Student Financial Aid will determine eligibility based on guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education.
CARES funding applications will be processed as quickly as possible to get this emergency aid to students as soon as possible. UToledo’s goal is to process the first awards by the end of the week.
The new federal relief dollars available are in addition to the more than $1 million in emergency aid that has already been awarded to UToledo students.
In recent weeks, individuals and organizations on campus and in the community have made generous donations to help students who need financial assistance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 Student Emergency Support Crowdfunding Campaign surpassed its goal two months ahead of schedule, raising more than $93,000 thanks to the generosity of more than 590 donors.
Student leaders also donated $187,000 of their unused funds that had been planned for spring events and activities.
And Team Sports, a local sportswear company and longtime supporter of Rocket athletics, has raised more than $7,000 through the sale of face masks that feature the Toledo Rocket logo and “Toledo Rocket Strong” T-shirts.
Those donations support the Rocket to Rocket Fund that provides relief of up to $500 for students who need help paying for housing, utilities, car repairs, medical bills, food and toiletries.
In addition, the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women has set aside $20,000 from its Center for Women Progress Fund to provide grants of up to $1,000 for students, prioritizing those who are caring for children or experiencing intimate partner violence.
And the Office of Student Financial Aid also makes available $1.4 million in emergency aid available for students each year from donor supported funding accounts.
Each student who submits a Rocket Aid application will be evaluated individually to identify funding sources available to help them with expenses and keep focused on their studies.
“Once a student submits the Rocket Aid application, our team will review their situation and identify the best options for emergency aid, access to federal student or parent loans, financial planning assistance or referrals to community resources,” Roberts said.
The Financial Emergency Intervention Program and Rocket Aid application process was formalized earlier this academic year to help organize the financial assistance options available to students.
It is even more important now to follow this process, Roberts said, because there are a number of financial resources available to assist students facing financial hardships because of the current pandemic.
“By having all of these assistance programs coordinated, we can get students aid more quickly and make our dollars stretch farther to help more students,” Roberts said.