U of M Student Emergency Fund closed after two days

Fundraising underway for its reopening

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Two days after becoming available, the COVID-19 UM Student Emergency Fund closed.

The fund was announced on March 31 by the U of M as well as via an email from UMSU to the student body that included the application form.

A U of M bursary opened to students to help offset costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It offered a one-time deposit to undergraduate and graduate students of up to $800 for full-time students and $400 for part-time.

Applying students were required to have no tuition costs owed to the university, have any previous emergency aid repaid, have achieved a minimum passing grade on all courses taken in the previous term and be able to demonstrate that their financial distress resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and that support was needed to continue at the U of M.

Applications for the fund closed April 2, and the university’s web page that contained the application form now states: “At this time, we are no longer accepting undergraduate application forms due to an overwhelming response. Should this situation change, we will update our website.”

Graduate student applications are also closed.

According to UMSU president Jakob Sanderson, the fund was made up of approximately $1.2 million and took in roughly 2,000 applications before its closure.

Asked to comment on its closure, Sanderson urged students to recognize the significant size of the fund.

“We’re sad in some sense it closed so soon but the fact it did is because 2,000 students applied and will be helped by it,” wrote Sanderson in an email. “That should be celebrated, not vilified.”

Sanderson said UMSU is currently surveying students to figure out what students need most right now, “particularly extending beyond [the Canada Emergency Response Benefit] and this fund,” and is advocating to the province “for a freeze on student loan payments, and on evictions, late fees or utility tampering to protect renters.

The emergency bursary was funded by the university and its donors. According to UMSU vice-president student life Jelynn Dela Cruz, the university is currently fundraising in hopes of reopening the fund.

“To our understanding, the university is working very hard to raise more money in order to reopen the fund and we’ll be announcing it again to UMSU’s networks once it is back up and running.”

The faculty of science announced on an emergency fund specifically for students of the faculty on April 6. Contributions to the fund can be made online.

There is no word yet on when and how applications for students in need will be available.

Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — the federal government’s assistance program for citizens affected by the pandemic — opened Monday.