How students can receive financial relief amid coronavirus pandemic

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Photo Credit: Rocky Higine | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

UT’s Texas One Stop, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and Student Emergency Services have been working together to provide aid for students during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Students and their families can fill out an application on the SES website to receive aid for needs such as rent, tuition and laptops. SES is also providing assistance with outreach, intervention, and referrals to relevant campus and community resources, according to their website.

SES has received more than 3,000 applications, said Diane Todd Sprague, executive director at the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

“Right now, (SES) is the initial point of contact for students who are in need of technology or basic need support,” Todd Sprague said. “The Office of Scholarships and Grants has been working hand in glove with (SES) on a review of the applications by making sure we are meeting all federal and state compliance and assisting students where we can.”

Todd Sprague said around half the applications have focused on basic needs such as food, rent or medical bills while the other half has centered on technology. 

“In order to receive financial aid, students have to fill out the FAFSA form, and for SES, (students) are filling out that application and providing all of the required documentation,” Todd Sprague said. “(SES) has had more money available (to give to students). The higher dollar amounts, I would say, have been related to Emergency Services providing laptops for students.”

Students can ask representatives at Texas One Stop any questions they have about aid or finding resources, said Jennifer Love, Texas One Stop director. 

“We know that sometimes (students) want a status update or just to find out a little bit more about the (SES) process and may not know exactly where to go,” Love said. “So, the Texas One Stop staff, specifically for this process, have been directing students to the appropriate resources on campus, and we are able to find out further updates on where certain things may be in a process.”

 As a part of the transition to online services, the Texas One Stop website now has a live chat option where students can talk to representatives about their questions, Love said.

“For my friends who do need assistance, they have been able to get some aid (from SES),” said Taylor Sweet, arts and entertainment technologies freshman. “I haven’t had to use any of the emergency funding as I am privileged to come from a financially stable household.”

Sweet said she would not use the funding unless absolutely necessary because she would hate to take away from those who need it more. 

“I’m happy that UT is providing loans and gifts like computers and financial assistance for those who need it,” Sweet said. “The online transition has been difficult for even people like me who don’t need assistance, so I can’t imagine the amount of stress some students must be under.”