Ensuring Student Success

Students facing unexpected financial hardship can apply for assistance through the Student Emergency Fund. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 30, 2018) — A car breaks down. A laptop breaks. There’s a sudden medical expense.

For some students, unexpected financial stress can make the difference in whether they’re able to successfully finish a semester. The University has a fund designed to help with these very problems.

Though the University has historically set aside funds for students facing catastrophic emergencies, the UAlbany Student Emergency Fund now has a larger budget and can assist with more “run of the mill” challenges. Supported by a grant from the Gerstner Family Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation for Children, with assistance from SUNY Impact Foundation, the fund increased the amount of emergency relief dollars available for students in need at UAlbany and six other SUNY campuses.

Introduced at UAlbany last semester, the Emergency Fund provides grants to students who have an emergency need that can be supported by written documentation. According to Sally D’Alessandro, director of Student CARE Services, typical problems range from stolen equipment to broken computers to medical bills.

D’Alessandro, who has led the fund since its debut last semester, stresses the importance of the additional funds this year.

“We were previously able to help students who had catastrophic incidents, but in doing that I began to see a lot of students who were having ‘run-of-the-mill’ issues that were a little more minor but challenging nonetheless, and at the time we simply didn’t have the funds to meet all those needs.”

Though it’s relatively new on campus, students already are voicing their appreciation.

One student who was struggling to make ends meet after her mother became seriously ill said: “Being a full-time student, I have a limited number of available hours to work, as I have always prioritized my education. Before being informed of the grant, I was strongly considering withdrawing from the semester or taking my last semester off, to temporarily get a full-time job and help pay some of the bills.”

Another student, Kathy, said, “At the end of last semester, I was struggling because I had to get a new prescription for my contacts. I also did not know how I was going to pay June's rent or buy food. Thankfully, with the help of the Student Emergency Fund, I was able to get all of these necessities covered and was able to focus on my final exams instead.”

Another student described how fund money helped in a time of need: “Near the end of last semester I experienced a medical emergency and wasn't provided with sufficient insurance coverage,” the student wrote in an email. “The grant I received from the emergency fund helped alleviate the burden of expenses I otherwise would have struggled with.”

Though the additional funds have enabled UAlbany to help students with typical financial challenges, the fund is still very much there for those facing larger issues, D’Alessandro noted. When an early morning fire earlier this month on Quail Street displaced seven students living off campus, the Emergency Fund was able to help them with replacing their books, computers and incidentals.

This semester, Student CARE Services hopes to utilize the fund to help even more students in need. Those who need assistance should visit the website or email [email protected]

Those interested in sustaining the fund beyond the grants currently available can donate online.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.