The Student Advocacy Center provides financial assistance through its Student Emergency Fund. Credit: Amal Saeed | Photo Editor

A 2018 survey conducted by Ohio State researchers showed that 63 percent of the more than 28,000 college students surveyed felt stressed about their financial situation.

The Student Advocacy Center has been trying to help relieve that financial stress through its Student Emergency Fund, Shannon Jones, program coordinator for the center, said. Students can apply for the fund and receive $1,000 per academic year if eligible.

To be eligible, students — who must be U.S. citizens and undergraduates at the Columbus campus — must have a 2.0 cumulative GPA, a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and an Expected Family Contribution of less than $10,000, and the fund can’t exceed a student’s total cost of attendance, Jones said.

“It provides financial assistance to students who may otherwise be at risk of dropping out of college due to some sort of unexpected financial emergency,” Jones said.

Jones said the fund does not cover university-related expenses, such as tuition, books and supplies for classes. The fund covers expenses such as off-campus housing rent or car payments for commuting students, Kimberly Pachell, director for the advocacy center, said.

Jones said money can be a stressor that affects a student’s grades, and the advocacy center tries to help alleviate that.

“We never want $1,000 to be the difference between a student graduating or not graduating,” Jones said.

The fund was first created in 2017 through a grant that was technically a branch of the Department of Education, Pachell said. But as of 2019, it is funded by an anonymous donor who provided the Student Advocacy Center with $1 million.

The anonymity is believed to encourage other families or individuals to donate and keep the fund running, Pachell said.

Pachell said connections are also made through the advocacy center, which not only grants students money, but also connects them with resources such as nonprofit student-run food pantry Buckeye Food Alliance or the Home Energy Assistance Program, a federally funded program that assists eligible Ohio citizens with their electric bills, according to its website.

“I often say, ‘It takes a village,’ and kind of a prime example of just giving them the money isn’t sufficient,” Pachell said.

Students can go to the Student Advocacy Center’s website for more information regarding eligibility and the application for the Student Emergency Fund.