In early April, the Mission Asset Fund launched the Support Fund for the University of California Student Emergency, which offered $ 2.3 million to low-income, undocumented or otherwise in need college students California in grants of $ 500.

"Within the first 10 minutes, the system crashed," said Audrey Dow, vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, one of the organizations that donate to the private fund. One thousand students were enrolled in the first 90 minutes. One day later, the mission of the Fund Assets, a non-profit organization, had 65,000 students on a waiting list.

The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on the differences in wealth and safety of students. You stops campus security led talks on student housing. As unemployment soars, the number of students grows food insecure. Online learning revealed that many students do not have access to computers and the Internet reliable. Universities are struggling to meet the Needs of their students remotely, and do it fast.

However, the distribution of aid dollars can be harder than it seems.

"The fact is that, to give someone for help Emergency is really very difficult," said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education and sociology at Temple University in Philadelphia and founding director of the hope center for college, Community and Justice, a research organization and promotion that focuses on basic Needs students.

In the following weeks closures campus, an avalanche of announcements of aid funds stacked students. Apparently each university wanted to get some of his students - a laptop, Wi-Fi, money for food and housing. That's great, Goldrick-Rab said, but the success of these Programs depends on their ability to reach all students, requests for help quickly process and manage.

The spread is critical. An email is not enough, Goldrick-Rab said. He stressed the University of California, Berkeley, who immediately announced its aid Program on social networks and website. The university has turned more than $ 900,000 private donations and other sources of Funding in Emergency grants to date, plus $ 9.6 million in Funding from the federal stimulus package, the CARES Act.

stimulus package allocated $ 14 billion for higher education, half of which are specifically routed institutions so that they could provide Emergency grants to students. Colleges and Universities are responsible for deciding how to distribute scholarships to students.

Requests for help while information for schools, are an obstacle to students seeking Funding for immediate Needs such as food, housing and Internet services.

"There are so many applications out there that basically bad ask students to write essays about their poverty," Goldrick-Rab said. "Basically they realize their poverty, traumatizing them, or ask them questions in a way that anyone who is seriously stressed out could answer."

Keith Curry, president of the University of Compton in California, the actions of frustration with applications. "We asked the students again and again: 'How poor are' in all applications," said

When it comes to choosing which students receive funds limited help, the experts stressed two things :. Prioritizing and randomly. Prioritize the different Needs of students have and then randomly change the recipients within those groups.

"that chance is assigned to what schools are doing. It's horrible, but it is also a fact. Is the only way to do the job, "Goldrick-Rab said. "Leaving aside the idea that going to make perfect decisions - you're not. There's no such thing ".

For a while, Montgomery College was doing just that. The small community college in Maryland was processing applications for assistance without an application for any students asked for help.

"We were trying really hard to have non-bureaucratic and does not have to be evaluated on an individual case, but the numbers just grew too fast," said Joyce Matthews, vice president of development and alumni relations at school and executive director of the Montgomery College Foundation.

The university has launched a short application, which asks students what their areas of need are already someone's list of the university community, as a faculty member or employee, who can advocate for them.

"We knew we were going to have to use their professional judgment" to determine which to aid delivery, Matthews said.

So far, Montgomery has distributed $ 625,000 in aid, in addition to the money worries of Law, with an average of $ 529 per prize.

Need undiminished, Matthews said. Just last week, the school received 200 applications.

"We are starting to see applications second," he said. "Certainly the food insecurity problem does not go away."

Some Universities are using existing economic data need to determine which students receive much help. Georgia State University, for example, uses existing data estimated financial contribution to determine the amount of the award, with students most need to receive most of the subsidies. The university has already managed CARES Act funds 23,000 students, plus another 2,000 additional donations totaling $ 800,000 from a combination of philanthropic donations and care dollars.

But before data financial need is obsolete because the financial situation of many students has changed suddenly in the middle of the pandemic.

Curry has established a strip of Programs for students at Compton College. He is delivering food and supplies to students through partnerships with Everytable and GrubHub. It is also sending laptops and mobile hotspots to students. This was before the university receives his care Act dollars.

His biggest obstacle has been to maintain Funding.

"I'm trying to climb," he said. "For example, our food Program: I'm 150 students, but I'm trying to increase that. But I need more money. "

traditional college-age students are not the only group affected by the closure of the campus.

Gilbert Vasquez is 57 and works with students who have been imprisoned in East Los Angeles College, a community college. The shift to online learning has been difficult for her students. Many of them work part time and are in their 40s and 50s. They do not grow with the technology of how many traditional college students have, and they are adjusting to life as students after spending years in prison.

Vásquez is concerned some of his students may drop out.

"was fantastic, it was going very well," he said. "And then blow COVID and simply closed the door to us."

Vásquez is working for laptops and mobile hotspots to students who need it, and to facilitate meetings and zoom setting up students with tutors.

He was worried about his own education, too. Vasquez spent nine years in prison before seeking a certificate curriculum addiction in East Los Angeles College. He is currently working on a bachelor's degree in psychology and planning to graduate in 2021.

"But this right here puts everything again," he said.

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Department of Education Updates Series of Student Aid Quarterly Data Reports

Updates from the Education Department Series of Student Help Quarterly Data Reports June 14, 2021 Contact: Press Office, (202) 401-1576, Press@ed.go

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