During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Arkansas Tech University students faced obstacles related to having to adapt to government directives resulting in ATU’s classes being moved entirely online for the spring 2020 semester. These challenges included increased costs for technology, travel, housing, food and other expenses related to this historic occurrence. Fortunately, ATU was able to offer two options for students to receive grants to help with these unexpected expenses.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress to help provide economic relief from the national emergency created by COVID-19. One portion of the CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) which provides the opportunity for emergency financial aid grants to help cover a student's expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
It was announced on May 14, 2020, that CARES/HEERF Act grants in the total amount of $3,549,493 would be administered by Arkansas Tech, and awarded to current undergraduate or graduate students who met the eligibility requirements.
Staff in the Financial Aid office worked diligently to email all qualifying students to ensure that the students had access to the proper information to apply for these funds.
In addition to the Cares Act, students needing financial assistance had access to a private funding source. Arkansas Tech University’s Fight on Fund, which is funded by generous donations from ATU alumni, students and friends of the university, provides financial resources to assist current students who have experienced a financial crisis. A committee reviews each application on a case-by-case basis to manage the funds and serve as many students as possible.
“The Fight on Fund provides vital assistance for students who are facing financial emergencies,” said Caroline Kitchens, director of annual giving programs. “This fund gives them support to get through challenging times they are experiencing so they can stay on track to earn their degree.”
Between the two funding sources, many students were able to get financial relief during the uncertain time of COVID-19, and as always, ATU staff were available to help our students succeed during these uncertain times.
If you’d like to help students with unexpected financial hardships throughout the year, you can make your tax-deductible donation to the ATU Foundation’s Fight On Fund online at www.atualumni.com/fighton.
-By Brandi Easterling Collins
for the Tech Action, Fall 2020