SUNY Orange to Establish Student Emergency Aid Fund

MIDDLETOWN – SUNY Orange is one of seven SUNY colleges selected to receive grant funding from the Gerstner Family Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation for Children, as part of a collaboration with the SUNY Impact Foundation, to launch a Student Emergency Aid pilot program that will help students experiencing an unforeseen hardship or emergency situation.

SUNY Orange will receive a total of $75,000 to establish and maintain a fund for eligible students. The goal of the program is to help keep more students on track toward graduation. The SUNY Impact Foundation will administer the program, working with the seven selected colleges to collect data and study the effects of the emergency funding.

Emergency aid will be available to students facing an unforeseen event or an unexpected need for aid such as homelessness or threat of eviction, medical emergency, natural disaster, domestic violence, theft, and loss of employment. Examples of eligible expenses include rent, utilities, clothing, furniture, medical expenses, back-up child care, back-up transportation, and replacement of stolen items needed for school.

Other college receiving grants included the University at Albany, University at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, Cayuga Community College, Dutchess Community College and SUNY Oneonta. The two Foundations have committed a total of $600,000 to establish this seven-school pilot program, and initial grant amounts were based upon undergraduate enrollment at each of the selected institutions.

The seven colleges will provide information about the program to students, and accept applications, beginning with the onset of the Spring 2018 semester in January. To be eligible to apply for an emergency grant, a student must be enrolled in at least six credits and must be seeking a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

“Students today face a variety of issues, outside of their performance in the classroom, that can slow or completely derail their progress toward completion of their chosen degree program,” said Dr. Kristine Young, SUNY Orange president. “Often times, when such crises occur, students subjugate their studies in order to attend to the emergent circumstance. I hope this fund, coupled with additional counseling and referrals that we may be able to offer, will provide students with adequate resources so they can continue progressing as scholars despite unanticipated external hardships.”

“SUNY recognizes that students are not impervious to crises and we want to do all we can do to support students when a situation arises that will have a lasting impact on their ability to complete college,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “An emergency aid program at SUNY New Paltz recently awarded funds to 100 students, and 87 percent of them have returned to campus and are on track to finishing their degree. Taking success like that to scale across our 64 campuses can be a real game-changer for SUNY students. We are so thankful to the Gerstner Family Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation for Children for starting us on this path.”

The Impact Foundation’s near-term goal is to facilitate communication between the funding foundations and the participating SUNY schools, to monitor adherence to program guidelines, and to facilitate collection and analysis of data collected from the schools. Long-term goals include expansion in the SUNY system and achieving measurable increases in retention and graduation rates amongst SUNY’s low-income students, and improved income mobility.

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