Students affected by natural disasters, temporary job loss and even broken computers can have a sense of relief through a Bellevue University grant program.
BU’s Emergency Grant Program has assisted with giving students relief after unexpected emergencies.
The program started in the 2015-16 school year by an anonymous donor. Since 2017-18, it is funded by John Scott and the William and Ruth Scott Foundation.
Students are awarded $500 to $1,000, though they have been awarded less or more depending on the situation.
With November being National Scholarship Month, Johnna Hargens-Brown, BU’s director of scholarships and grants, said it’s important to get the word out about this grant.
“Students come across things that they weren’t expecting, and it may inadvertently pull them out of school, and that’s not what we want,” Hargens-Brown said.
“We had seed money from several years back and we piloted it, just seeing how it would really go off. It started off very small and it went on for two years before we started asking for donor support.”
Hargens-Brown said she found emergencies aren’t limited to one type of student.
“They happen all over the world, all over the country and in our backyard,” she said. “The program has been able to provide that kind of ‘right at the right time’ kind of funding to get the students over those humps, past those emergencies and to continue staying in classes and graduation.”
To qualify, a student must be at least halfway through their degree program, completed one term at BU, have to be a domestic student — not international— and must be maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
According to data provided by BU, the school has more than 12,000 students either in Nebraska and not Bellevue or around the country for the 2018-19 school year. The grant is available for any student around the country who meets the requirements to receive emergency grants.
Over the last few years, Hargens-Brown said the most common emergency students are faced with is temporary job loss, with natural disasters being the runner-up.
“The top needs that have been requested are assistance with tuition, living expenses, transportation costs and food,” Hargens-Brown said.
Hargens-Brown said the standing committee for the grant program meets every week to review applicants.
Depending on the situation, grant money can be processed and submitted within 24 hours.
At a 99% success rate, there have been 77 applicants awarded. Though not all applicants are awarded, the school helps to guide them toward other avenues to help them with their emergencies.
Hargens-Brown said the grant program has been a great experience for her.
“Hearing the relief when they get something, it makes me want to cry because they’re like, ‘I had nowhere else to turn,’” she said. “It’s heartwarming to impact someone’s life in a small way.”