As a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Lauren Smith has had hungry students and homeless students in her classroom. She's seen students miss multiple classes while they looked for car repair money so they could make the commute back to campus.
"I had one student who suffered through weeks of illness because she couldn't afford the healthcare she needed and another who waited weeks to fix a broken wheelchair because she, too, was short on funds," she said.
To help more low-income students stay enrolled despite financial emergencies, Smith applied for and won a $315,000 grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates.
The grant will pay emergency expenses for individual low-income students, up to $1,000, for anything from dental work to childcare expenses. In addition, student services staff on campus will work with students to identify additional resources to help students avoid financial hardship in the future.
UW-Whitewater will begin making student emergency grants starting in fall 2017. Students needing financial assistance can apply online. Additional information will be communicated to campus once the website is live.
"Funds will be distributed quickly — within 24 hours in most cases, so that students can refocus on their studies and continue toward graduation," Smith said. "We are excited to see the effect this grant will have on UW-Whitewater student success."
More than $150,000 will be distributed to low-income students in financial distress each year for the next two years.