April 25, 2021
The proliferation of emergency aid programs is one of the few trends to emerge from the pandemic higher education experts hope will remain
It had been almost five months since Virginia Commonwealth University sophomore Brittany Ofori lost her part-time job at a substance abuse center when she received an unexpected offer of help.
A campus organization for first-generation college students like Ofori, 20, emailed her in February about coronavirus pandemic relief grants from the public university in Richmond. At the time, Ofori was using her savings to pay bills. Living at home alleviated one expense, but not all of them. And none of her job interviews were leading to work.
“When I got the email, I was like, ‘This money could go towards so many things: food, bills or taking a summer class,’ ” said Ofori, a psychology major who applied for and received $2,000. “The last year has been hard, and it’s still going.”
Colleges and universities are flush with money to help students like Ofori. Congress has earmarked $35 billion in emergency aid since last spring for students facing housing, employment and food insecurities.