Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Emergency funding available for U-M students, employees

Each year the Center for the Education of Women gives out Critical Difference grants that aptly live up to their name – making a critical difference for students faced with the question of whether they’ll have the funds to complete their semester and, ultimately, their degrees.

U-M has several emergency funding programs to assist students and/or employees who need help because of the bad economy. Here’s a look:

CEW fund is the ‘critical difference’

In the 2007-08 fiscal year, CEW gave out 127 “CD” grants to both men and women, averaging $1,700 each, says Kirsten Elling, CEW’s associate director for counseling, programs and services.

More online
For more information about U-M emergency funding, to go

The grants have helped students with a wide range of unexpected expenses, such as:
• Health care, including mental health services;

• Transportation, including car repairs when travel is required for a practicum or field work; and

• Family situations, such as the birth of a child, costs related to a spouse leaving/divorce, or costs related to a death in the family.

CDs are available to U-M graduate students and nontraditional undergraduates (older or raising a child) enrolled at the Ann Arbor campus. Additionally, CEW has an annual scholarship program for returning students (those with a four-year interruption in their education). To qualify, students must meet some eligibility criteria and meet with a CEW counselor. CEW also offers free career and educational counseling for students, faculty, staff and community members. For more information:

UM-Dearborn special emergency fund comes to students’ aid

Several hundred current and incoming students may qualify for additional financial assistance that UM-Dearborn has set aside as part of a special $300,000 emergency fund.

Since announcing the fund to help students with school costs, Judy Benfield Tatum, director of the Office of Financial Aid, says her office has received requests for assistance from current and new students.

“We have had positive reactions from campus colleagues who recognize this as an important step to assist our students,” Benfield Tatum says. “We've also received positive responses from students who have inquired about this new funding source.”

To qualify, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (2008-09 for current-year funding or 2009-10 for the upcoming academic year funding.)

Once U-M experts determine the extent to which students qualify for federal and/or state financial aid, those with demonstrated need as determined through the FAFSA may be eligible for increased assistance if the families' financial circumstances have changed since the time they filed the FAFSA. Students must provide documentation of the change in their parents' financial circumstances, such as proof of job loss or reduction in wages, for example.

“Our goal is to fill the gap between the student's eligibility for federal or state need-based financial aid programs and the student's demonstrated need,” says Benfield Tatum.

UM-Dearborn is taking other steps to help qualifying students and their families by providing more financial-aid counseling and distributing information about federal, state and institutional aid to students and their families. For more information:

The Emergency Hardship Program helps employees in time of need

The Emergency Hardship Program was piloted in 2007, when more and more employees faced financial crisis at a time when there were limited community resources, says Tom Waldecker, director of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. Like other university hardship programs across the country, this offers information and/or assistance that is of a one-time, temporary nature.

“The program provides a way for the university and colleagues to assist fellow employees in need,” Waldecker says. “The program is a means to address the well-being of our university community during the stressful economic times we have.”

Established in units within Business & Finance, as well as the U-M Health System, the Emergency Hardship Program offers assistance for staff and faculty members who are experiencing a severe and temporary financial crisis. The program has received more than 125 inquiries and many people have been connected with appropriate community resources. In addition, the program has awarded 16 one-time grants (up to a maximum of $700).

Most grant recipients have encountered an unexpected emergency financial hardship that resulted in an eviction notice, a utility shut off or an expense for a major repair to their cars that prevented them from getting to work, Waldecker says.

Eligibility is for any current university employee who has worked at U-M for at least six months in a regular position with a 50-percent or greater appointment.

Counselors at FASAP, 936-8660, or the U-M Health System Employee Assistance Program, 763-5409, assess each situation and may refer an individual to university or community resources for counseling, budget help or financial planning. Or, an individual may meet the criteria to apply for a one-time grant from the program’s fund. Awards are based on demonstrated need, short-term nature of the financial hardship and funding available for disbursement directly to creditors. Information on the program, including how to contribute to the fund, can be found on the program Web site:

Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund

"Sometimes, it is the unanticipated circumstances and events that can create the most difficult situations for our students," says Shelly Martinez, assistant dean for academic planning and policy. "Many graduate students are financially independent, and some are also responsible for families. Often they have very few resources to call on in emergency situations. The Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund was established to support graduate students so that they do not have to leave their studies because of financial need caused by unforeseen expenses."

The Rackham Graduate Student Emergency fund helps meet the financial needs of Rackham graduate students who encounter emergency situations or unforeseen expenses during their degree program, including:

• Personal or family medical, dental or mental health emergencies;

• Major accidents and events such as a fire and natural disasters; and

• Expenses related to the illness or death of an immediate relative.

The emergency fund has supported an average of 110 students per year. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, Rackham provided an average of $2,000 per grant.

To qualify, the Rackham student must meet eligibility criteria. Students are limited to two awards during their degree program. For more information, go to