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Cougar Emergency Fund offers relief to students impacted by coronavirus

The Cougar Emergency Fund has offered financial assistance to students impacted by the ongoing pandemic since the program’s relaunch in March. | Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

The Cougar Emergency Fund has raised over $1 million since March for students seeking financial assistance following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Originally, the short-term financial relief program was implemented in 2015 and was reinstated in 2017 following Hurricane Harvey,

The program’s 2020 relaunch has awarded grants up to $1,500 to almost 700 students. The fund aims to offer relief for students confronting difficulties such as lost wages, emergency housing, utility connections, medical expenses, technology support and food.

 “We recognize the struggles many students are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and remain committed to providing the necessary support, financial or otherwise, to see them through,”  vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Richard Walker said.

 “The purpose of the Cougar Emergency Fund is to assist students facing unexpected financial hardships to make sure they can stay in school and graduate on time,” Walker continued.  

The UH Foundation and its James Wade Rockwell Endowment contributed $500,000 to the renewed Cougar Emergency Fund, while an additional 1,300 donors brought in $569,027, according to a press release.

“We are so grateful to the hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University that have contributed to the Cougar Emergency Fund,” vice president for University Advancement Eloise Brice said in the press release.

“Gifts have ranged from a few dollars to $55,000, an extraordinary indication of the support our Cougar community has for our students,” Brice added.

Students interested in applying to receive aid from the Cougar Emergency Fund can contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial aid to request an application.

Students that may not qualify for aid under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and expenses not authorized under federal CARES Act stimulus package are still eligible for coverage.

The application process remains open and the Cougar Emergency Fund will continue to award grants until the raised funds have been expended. 

“I understand how the University uses their funds (and how) this might not be possible to carry something like this on all the time as something permanent,” computer information systems sophomore Claudia Ventura said.

“But given the current climate, students are probably struggling and making their ends meet with college expenses and this would be a big relief for a lot of students,” Ventura added.

 “I’m really glad that this is one of the universities that went through with that and made the effort to reach out to the students to make sure that they were being helped if they really needed it.”

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