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Gifts Pour in to Student Crisis Fund. So Do Pleas for Help

$198K Donated in One Week, With Aid Distributed Just as Fast

By Chris Carroll

Columns on campus building

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

The Student Crisis Fund received about $158,000 from 1,224 gifts as of noon today, but it remains empty because money is flowing out to students as quickly as it comes in—and more than 200 Terps are still awaiting aid decisions. Since March 11, the fund has helped 876 students. 

In the first week since the University of Maryland launched a fundraising campaign to restore its depleted Student Crisis Fund, enough donations have come in to provide financial help to another 200 students weathering financial shortfalls, job loss and other difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund, administered by the Division of Student Affairs, received about $198,000 from 1,314 gifts as of late today, but it remains essentially on empty because money is flowing out to students as quickly as it comes in—and more than 200 Terps are still awaiting aid decisions. Since March 11, the fund has helped 876 students. 

Division staff worked through an initial explosion of need, but requests for help—typically disbursed as $250 to $500 grants—keep pouring in as the program becomes increasingly well known (enough that other Maryland universities asked UMD for guidance in starting their own such programs).

“We’ve not seen quite the same number of applications since the huge spike when we had 231 in a single day on March 20, but we’re still averaging about 50-60 a day, which is far above normal,” said Sarah Williamson, coordinator in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. “The hope is that donations to the fund grow faster than applications.” 

Including money taken from the parent-funded Parent and Family Student Life Fund, Student Affairs was able to provide about $430,000 in assistance to applicants to the Student Crisis Fund as of late today, said Ed Kenny, director of development and external relations for the division. With gifts now being processed factored in, the fund is still tens of thousands of dollars short of what’s needed to help everyone on the waiting list, he said.

It also doesn’t account for ongoing need from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has stalled the U.S. economy for a period that’s still impossible to predict.

“We did meet a wave of need for people with rent payments due or with other needs … but we don’t know what’s needed ultimately,” Williamson said.  

Schools & Departments:

Division of Student Affairs

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