Since 2008, the College has had the Student Emergency Fund to help students overcome the hurdles of financial challenges. Through the fund, students receive support for everything from textbooks and school supplies to food, medication and household bills. Over the years, Student Emergency Fund assistance averaged around $17,000 per year. All that changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In March 2020, when the College had to move to all online courses and many students were laid off, the need for the Student Emergency Fund became acute. Within 48 hours of reminding students about the Student Emergency Fund, the Division of Student Affairs received more than 500 applications for emergency aid.
Upon learning about the dire need among students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Charleston community rallied, donating nearly $200,000. These funds made a very challenging time a little easier for students and allowed them to focus more on their academic work.
To get these funds to the students, the student affairs team worked tirelessly to review the applications, and the College of Charleston Foundation quickly processed the checks. While the value of the checks seldom exceeded $200, receiving an award that did not have to be paid back gave students enormous peace of mind. During the spring 2020 semester, more than 1,000
students benefited from the Student Emergency Fund.
When students returned to campus in the fall of 2020, the financial strain had not left. Many students’ jobs had still not been reinstated, but expenses carried on. Fortunately, donors continue to support the Student Emergency Fund and benefit students in need.
“I am very grateful for the assistance the Student Emergency Fund granted me,” says a CofC junior. “It took away the financial worry of returning to campus during this uncertain time and is a large contributor to why I, as well as many other College of Charleston students, were able to come back to school this fall.”
“The generous gifts provided to the Student Emergency Fund allowed us to provide support directly to students very quickly, which alleviated some of their stress and allowed them to focus on successfully completing their spring 2020 coursework and return this fall semester,” says Alicia Caudill, executive vice president of student affairs. “It has let students know that the College is a community that will always be there for them. Given what is happening in the world, we will need to be there for our students for years to come, and there is no greater way to show support for our students than the Student Emergency Fund.”