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UW offers support

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on April 4, 2020

In response to student hardships caused by novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the University of Wyoming (UW) is taking extraordinary steps to provide financial security for students for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

            Those steps include a decision to pay the university’s 2,200 student employees, many of whom no longer have access to their positions, through the end of the semester. This is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

            The university will also launch a $250,000 matching program, Pokes Make the Difference, by the UW Foundation’s Board of Directors to create an emergency fund of at least $500,000 for students in need.

            Provision of dozens of computers and other technology we’ve provided so students can complete the semester via online instruction at home.

            Distribution of $163,000 by the Associated Students of UW (ASUW) to students who responded to a notice that ASUW would provide student stipends of up to $300.

            “As the COVID-19 continues to impact the world, the welfare of our students has been our top priority,” Acting President Neil Theobald wrote in a message announcing the UW Foundation matching program. “Many UW students have been dramatically impacted by this event, particularly those students who faced financial and food insecurity before the effects of this crisis took hold. For many, the university has served as the primary resource for not only educational needs, but also critical amenities such as housing, food and technology. Our students have entrusted us with their well-being, and we will not let them down.”

            The decision to continue paying student workers who no longer have access to their jobs was based on concerns that many of these students depend upon the income to continue their UW studies.

            “As students were encouraged not to return to Laramie, many of our students no longer have access to their positions in dining, athletics, the rec center and so on,” Theobald says. “Students who work while in college tend to be lower income, on average. We are very concerned that many of these students are at high risk to drop out of school due to losing their campus jobs.”

            While the federal relief bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week includes substantial funding through the Small Business Administration that could end up helping some students who work off campus, the university is concerned UW students will have high need for an emergency fund to stay enrolled through the end of the semester.

            Those concerns prompted the UW Foundation’s Board of Directors to create the $250,000 Pokes Make the Difference matching program, which the Foundation launched today.

“The goal is to provide at least $500,000 to UW students through a process focused on financial aid status and lack of access/ability to work,” Theobald says. “We really appreciate UW Foundation stepping up in this way.”

            Students may learn more about criteria and the application process for emergency funds via the UW dean of students website, where the application form and process will be available beginning April 3, and will remain open through April 17.

            The new emergency fund builds upon ASUW’s earlier distribution of $163,000 from student fees it receives to 559 UW students who demonstrated needs related to COVID-19.

            When UW announced it was moving all instruction online for the remainder of the spring semester, UW Information Technology distributed an online survey to all students asking about their need for online access or equipment to take courses online. Nearly 200 students have responded to the survey and indicated needs for either equipment or assistance.

            As a result of the survey, UW responded to 75 students to make sure their connectivity needs were met. Forty laptops have been checked out to students and 35 students are working with UW Disability Support Services for further assistance. 

            “We remain unshakable in our determination to provide our students with every opportunity to succeed,” Theobald says. “As a family, we will overcome and recover, more resilient than ever before.”

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