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Little-known fund helps misfortunate students

Fund aims to help students in dire need of financial help.

During the past four years, more and more students have been forced to look for other means of getting by and a little-known program at Temple has been there to help in extreme cases of need.

Through the help of private donors, students in need of emergency assistance have been able to apply for help through the Student Emergency Aid Fund since 1994. Director of Finances and Accounting David Broadus manages the program, which acts as a life preserver to students in precarious situations, through the Student Affairs office.

Financial awards given out by the program increased from 2011 to 2012 with 116 awards given out in fiscal year 2012 and 99 awards given out in fiscal year 2011, Broadus said. He added that the amount of students participating in the program has increased each of the last four years.

According to program guidelines, the fund is designed to help students deal with unforeseen hardships during their college careers. Broadus also emphasized that this program should be considered as a last alternative to financial aid, loans and other funding. Students have to show that they are in an extreme emergency situation in order to receive aid, such as money for medication, textbooks or food.

“The fund is on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Broadus said.

Applicants can only apply once a year. The guidelines explain that students may receive increments up to, but not exceeding, $400 for emergencies, except on rare occasions. Broadus said the money is a gift to students and doesn’t need to be paid back.

“Exceptions can be made, depending on the individual’s circumstances,” Broadus said.

One example of an exception he stated was if someone initially applies for the fund in order to have food on the table, and in the following week, there was a fire that caused destruction to the applicant’s home. Special circumstances like this could get Broadus and the program to perform beyond the means of the guidelines, he said.

Once the student reports his or her grievances, the process of the Student Emergency Aid Fund begins.

The fund has a current balance of approximately $10,000, Broadus said. The balance will remain, until a student is directly informed of the program by a Temple staff member.

“Students are usually referred to me for funding,” Broadus said. “Students who identify themselves to the university’s financial aid office, the office of the Dean of Students or referred by [a] member of the Temple community will be considered for aid.”

Numerous departments, such as Campus Safety Services and Counseling and Student Financial Services, are involved in the referral process. Each case is different, and after the initial referral from a department, they will have to fill out an application for the program. Qualified students then meet with Broadus to discuss further details about the fund. In order for students to apply for funds, they must contact Broadus to set up an appointment.

“One of the reasons for the meeting is to go over the guidelines, determine if they are eligible for funding, before they fill out an application and spend more time,” Broadus said.

From the initial meeting, up to qualifying a student for the program, the process takes 15 to 20 minutes, he said.

Broadus said the amount of students referred to the program may have increased because of financial obstacles such as the economic downturn and the rising cost of higher education.

The fund started in 1994 under a program called Temple Way that partnered with the United Way. According to the university’s website, Temple Way was an annual campaign that collected funds from a number of organizations, and distributed it to individual health and social services around Philadelphia.

Four years ago, Temple began to transition more of the operation from the United Way to the university. One of the main reasons for the transition was that when donations came through the United Way, the organization took a small administrative fee from the donations. Now, every dollar given to the fund by donors is set aside for students. Donations are mainly made by alumni, parents, staff and the Temple community, Broadus said.

“This is all outside contributions, no Temple funds are used,” Broadus said.

United Way donors from when the program started in 1994 are still donating today. Broadus said that a small amount of donations still come through United Way.

“I am not a direct partner with the United Way, but I still get a check from them,” Broadus said.

The program is not widely advertised because it does not receive money from Temple to spread the word about the program, Broadus said. He added that since the fund has a “modest” amount of money, it wouldn’t be able to handle an onslaught of aid requests.

Broadus said he feels very committed to the program, especially when it comes to helping students with situations they cannot foresee or control.

“It is a wonderful feeling to receive the level of appreciation from our students and folks that contribute to the Student Emergency Aid Fund,” Broadus said. “Donors truly give from the heart. Members of my Temple family are big time advocates for students.”

Edward Barrenechea can be reached at edward.barrenechea@temple.edu. 

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