New for the 2017-18 academic year, Ohio State has thousands of dollars set aside to help out students in financial emergencies, but virtually no students have taken the university up on the offer yet.
The Ohio State Emergency Grant was announced in June and is primarily funded by a $210,000 donation from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that assists students with college funding and loan repayment. Originally called the Dash Grant, the program offers a one-time payment up to $1,000 to cover an unplanned student expense, such as an emergency health care bill or car repair.
So far this academic year, only a dozen or so people have expressed interest in the grant, said Amy Dierker, the Student Advocacy Center program assistant in charge of the grant. Of those, she said only one person might actually be eligible.
The requirements for grant eligibility are that the student be an undergraduate, has an expected family contribution of less than $7,000 on the student’s FAFSA application, and needs the grant to cover an unforeseeable expense — meaning rent or tuition cannot be covered by it.
The lack of applicants so far might be chalked up to how young the academic year is, said Karen Kyle, director of the Student Advocacy Center.
“The problems that manifest themselves with car repairs and other kinds of things they didn’t anticipate maybe haven’t come around yet,” she said.
“We want students to know that this is an option and not be scrambling and panicking,” Kyle said. “We want them to know that they have some kind of net that they can come to fall on with us.”
The application for the grant was recently added to the Student Advocacy website, Dierker said. Beyond simple demographic information and the expected family contribution, applicants will have the opportunity to briefly describe their financial crisis.
“We also really strongly encourage students to include their documentation in the application up front,” Dierker said. “It really strengthens their request if we have a receipt or an estimate or an invoice.”
After that, Dierker said she and her colleagues will look at an applicant’s information and decide whether to pay out the request within 48 hours of the application’s submission. Any disbursal of funds will then be made directly to the party the student owes money to within an additional 48 hours.
The short turnaround times on the grant are required by Great Lakes as part of the agreement to donate grant money to the university.