STEPHENVILLE — Some $2.4 million in funding is available for fall 2020 to help Tarleton State University students facing significant financial challenges due to COVID-19. It’s part of the $5.4 million the school received in March from the U.S. Department of Education as a segment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Combined with Tarleton’s own Student Emergency Fund grant, more than $3 million has been disbursed directly to students since early spring — $2.7 million in CARES Act grants and almost $650,000 in other emergency aid.
“No student should have to give up their pursuit of a Tarleton education because of the economic effects of the coronavirus,” said university President James Hurley. “We are extremely grateful that our state and national legislative leaders appreciate the value of a university education and understand the impact COVID-19 has on our students, their families and many others in our service region.
“Tarleton Texans experiencing financial need because of the pandemic are encouraged to apply for CARES Act and Tarleton Student Emergency Fund grants. We can help, we want to help, and we will help every single student in need.”
The CARES Act funding is just one of several ways Tarleton is addressing student need during the global health crisis.
Tarleton’s own emergency fund was created several years ago with the simple goal of making sure small expenses didn’t keep students from school. The self-sustaining account started with money from the Tarleton Alumni Association, the Tarleton Foundation Inc. and individual donors. It was restructured when Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas Gulf Coast in 2017.
This spring Tarleton joined forces with GivingTuesday for an international day of grass roots philanthropy — Global Day of Unity — in response to COVID-19. Donations focused on the school’s Student Emergency Fund, university food pantries and the Tarleton Promise — all of which respond to the financial needs of students affected by the coronavirus and the economic impact of the pandemic.
Donors gave some $102,000 to help Tarleton Texans continue their university education during COVID-19.
Most rewarding are the positive stories of students receiving funds.
“Thanks to CARES Act grants and the generosity of university friends, our students are able to stay in school and meet their obligations,” said Dr. Kelli Styron, Tarleton Vice President for Student Affairs. “Requests come from traditional and nontraditional students. Some have parents who are out of work while others are parents who’ve lost jobs due to the pandemic. They may be receiving some unemployment, but that’s limited.
“In the midst of the financial uncertainy caused by COVID-19, we want to do everything possible to ensure our students complete their Tarleton degree.”
One recipient offered his thanks in an email.
“I was becoming discouraged since the hours at my job have become almost zero due to COVID-19,” he wrote, “but this recent award from Tarleton is an encouragement for me knowing that my school is there to help when I need it. Thank you so much for the encouragement and assistance during these strange and uncertain times.”
Another student sought $500 to help with tuition and fees for the summer semester, then qualified for and received an additional $2,000.
“I wanted to thank you so much,” read the note that followed the news. “With happy relieved tears in my eyes, there are no other words to express the gratitude from my heart.”
Application for CARES Act funding opens Aug. 20, with disbursement after Sept. 8 for students meeting eligibility requirements. Grants help students cover emergency expenses caused by COVID-19, including housing, utilities, food insecurity and medical expenses.
Application for Tarleton Student Emergency Fund grants is open year ’round and assists students who experience financial hardship because of a sudden change in finances — like a job loss or travel costs related to the death or illness of an immediate family member.
And The Texas A&M University System Regent’s Grant provides support to currently enrolled Texas-resident undergraduates unable to meet essential expenses due to unforeseen hardship.
Students can apply for CARES Act, Tarleton Emergency Fund and A&M System Regent’s grants at https://tarletonstate.us/relief. Call the Administrative Office for the Division of Student Affairs at 254-968-9081 for more information.
University friends can continue supporting the Tarleton Student Emergency Fund by giving online at https://donate.tarleton.edu/Emergency.
“Our students need us now more than ever,” Hurley said. “Despite the uncertainty of the time, one thing remains constant: Texans help Texans.”