With a swiftly launched campaign called Shockers UP, the WSU Foundation and its donors have raised more than $100,000 so far to help Wichita State students facing financial difficulties related to the pandemic.
The campaign began in mid March, within days of the WSU Foundation hearing reports of students unable to pay for basic necessities such as food and rent. Many students lost their jobs because of the stay-at-home orders and others had unexpected expenses related to the transition to online learning.
So far, about 160 students have received grants of $500 each from the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Students. A total of 370 applications had been received as of April 30, with more anticipated in the coming weeks. The Office of Financial Aid, which is analyzing applications and distributing the money, hopes to award $500 grants to students in need.
“We’re so grateful to alumni and friends who have stepped up to help our students,” said Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO. “The funds raised are nearly exhausted, so we encourage more donations to address what clearly is an urgent situation for students wondering how they will be able to remain in school.”
Like most colleges and universities, Wichita State will receive about $4.4 million in federal stabilization aid for students under the CARES Act, but it is uncertain what conditions will be applied, especially for international and DACA students who may not be eligible.
Felipe Lima de Oliveira, an engineering major from Brazil, is one of those students. After losing his job, he applied for help, noting that as an international student he is not eligible for unemployment benefits. He used his $500 grant to make his final tuition payment for the spring semester.
Jenna Barber, a physical education major, used her grant to buy groceries and sock away $100 for a summer class. Her husband received a medical discharge from the Air Force and is unemployed.
Gladys Heitzman, who lost her job and has been unable to find another, had this to say after receiving her check: “I’m so proud of WSU and extremely grateful for the aid during this time. It’s incredible what WSU is doing for their students and it’s comforting to know that I go to a university that cares about their students.”
Donations to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Students are a meaningful way for Shockers to show that we are stronger together.
“We are working a little differently in this tumultuous time, but what hasn’t changed is our commitment to our students and our university,” King said. “It’s been gratifying to have such a vivid reminder of how essential our work is.”
To donate to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Students, go to foundation.wichita.edu/shockersup.