Relief fund hopes to ease stress for students

Photo+courtesy+of+NMU+Foundation+homepage+%0A

Photo courtesy of NMU Foundation homepage

Mary McDonough

While safety restrictions concerning COVID-19 have left many students unemployed and financially uncertain, the NMU Foundation recently created the Wildcat 2020 Relief Fund in an attempt to help students with certain living expenses. Applications were released April 8.

Students who apply are eligible for up to $300 from the foundations to put toward things like groceries, moving expenses, utility bills, phone and internet connectivity bills among a list of other things, according to an email from the NMU Foundation.

Associate Director of Annual Giving Andrew Hill explained that the relief fund allows for a small safety net while students are juggling financial decisions that may keep them from continuing with school.

“The relief fund was created so students had quick access to some funds so that the choices they’re making whether to stay in school or pay a bill, allows them to have some peace of mind,” Hill said. “Obviously this is a historical occurrence and there are many financial hardships that NMU students are currently dealing with. NMU is committed to helping students continue and complete their education.” 

Students of all programs and years are eligible for the one time assistance, as long as they have shown satisfactory academic progress. Those who apply will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the Financial Aid Office. Applications can be found in the Donor-funded scholarships section of MyNMU. Awards will be made until the funds are gone, according to the NMU Foundation email. 

While orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slowly brought changes to the university in mid-March, staff at the foundation were aware that there wasn’t much time before students would need financial assistance. The process of creating Wildcat 2020 Relief Fund took several weeks of virtual meetings, conference calls and emails, Hill said. 

“You could see from the beginning that this was going to have an impact on students and their ability to finish school. The foundation started talking about doing something now,” Hill said. “In any crisis, people want to help. That idea really generated from need and what we knew was going to happen on campus.”

The Foundation has been able to raise $20,000 so far since the launch of the relief fund, and donations are still coming in. Hill said that this is one of the ways Marquette community members can be a part of aiding students through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Hill recognizes that many people have found different ways to help and what the pandemic has brought out within the community.

“It is that moment to ask yourself ‘How can we help? What can I do right now?’ For some it’s writing a check, for others it’s buying groceries and dropping them off at the NMU Food Pantry,” Hill said. “We’ve had alumni, faculty and staff make masks for our healthcare workers and first responders. In times of crisis it doesn’t mean things have to stop. It’s cliche but it brings out the best in people.” 

Whether it is donating to the relief fund or finding their own way to help the NMU and Marquette community, Hill said he is thankful for those who are trying to make positive changes in the lives of others. 

“This fund came from an idea, but it takes people to give to bring it to life. Our alumni and donors who are committed to NMU and committed to our students’ education, they’re the ones who were able to get this off the ground. A huge thank you to all people who are doing good right now,” Hill said. “The need is here, the need is now.” 

For students who are unsure if they should apply for the Wildcat 2020 Relief Fund, Hill said that the Financial Aid Office will be able to answer questions and provide resources concerning each student’s financial standing over the phone.