UAF emergency scholarship program wins national award

The UAF Emergency Scholarship Program received the 2022 Gold Star Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. The award recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena.

In the fall of 2019, the UAF enrollment management team authorized an emergency scholarship program at UAF. This scholarship centralized and standardized the requests for emergency funding. Students would no longer have to know the right people – university staff would make sure they were connected to the right people. Coordinated by the Financial Aid Office, a cross-campus committee was created to holistically review a student’s account and determine a course of action to assist in emergency situations.

The committee continues to find that while a scholarship is helpful in some circumstances, it isn’t always the only solution. In addition to providing scholarships, it has assisted applicants with paperwork to adjust the FAFSA (federal financial aid application), provided tutoring referrals, submitted petitions for courses to meet graduation requirements and re-organized payment plan schedules to allow for self-pay situations. Each applicant receives personal support and attention from a member of the committee.

The emergency scholarship committee was tasked with aiding retention goals by reducing the financial barrier. It has worked with students who were about to drop out of school because they could not afford housing or food. Committee members know they’ve met this goal because some of these students are now preparing for graduation – (and the committee is using some of its funds to help pay for regalia). However, the committee also found that students have more than just financial concerns, they need a comprehensive support system.

The emergency scholarship committee is a centralized place for student support in general. Its members work very closely with other support efforts on campus, including our CARE team. While the committee has received over 100 applications, the committee has found that the true need isn’t always money. The committee continually refers students to mental health professionals, career services or tutoring services in addition to connecting students with a financial aid advisor. It funds the students who need it, but also provides support that lasts longer than a check.

Some of committees success stories include:

  • A student getting assistance with petitioning classes to meet requirements and used connections to allow them to drop unnecessary classes with a full refund, bringing their final semester balance after aid from $3,500 to $400 – which was then covered by a scholarship.
  • A recipient of the emergency scholarship was hired on as a Federal Work Study student in a department and has earned the funds necessary to continue their education
  • A student referred to us by the faculty representative was assisted with applying into the correct program, which made them eligible for a departmental scholarship
  • An international student was able to purchase a $1,000 plane ticket home for a medical procedure, which would have cost $12,000 in the U.S.
  • A student stuck in Canada with car trouble was able to get expedited funding for repairs to get to the border before the COVID-19 travel deadline

Know of a student in an emergency situation? Students can apply using this form.

Current Committee:
Ashley Munro, Financial Aid Office
Becky Phillips, Community & Technical College
Brandon Blum, Financial Aid Office
Carlton Hautala, Rural Student Services
Corbin Sandgren, Student Rights & Responsibilities
Ginny Kinne, Academic Advising Center
Joel Stone, Admissions
Latoya Wilson, Bursar’s Office
Montana Gross, Student Support Services
Shelly Baumann, Grad School
Tyler Vollmer, Residence Life

Previous Committee Members:
Alex Hirsch, Faculty Representative – CLA
Amy Bristor, Admissions
Brittany Van Eck, Residence Life
Donald Crocker, Student Support Services
Kaydee Van Flein, Student Rights & Responsibilities
Taneisha Moses, Rural Student Services
Will Burt, Faculty Representative – CFOS