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Chemeketa Foundation provides students with emergency funds

The Foundation Scholarship office. 
Photo by Cecelia Love-Zhou

In the case of “unforeseen” monetary issues, such as needing money to cover a lapse in rent or food, students in good academic standing are able to request funds from the College Access program, said Yesica Navarro, a coordinator for the program. 

The College Access program is funded by the Chemeketa Foundation, which receives donations from Chemeketa staff and the local community. 

“The foundation scholarship can actually provide resources for people who are really struggling financially at times,” said Blanca Aguirre, a counselor at Chemeketa. 

“These are donations that staff are donating money into,” said Navarro. “We want to make sure that we are giving it to students who really need it and that they are not just asking for money.”

To receive student emergency funds, a student will have to meet certain eligibility requirements. 

“It is a case-by-case [basis], and there is a GPA component to that,” said Joel Gisbert, Chemeketa’s Civic Engagement Coordinator. “And [you have to] have a good case for why you need that kind of funding.” 

Students requesting financial emergency aid will need to be a current Chemeketa student with a GPA of 2.00 or higher, registered for classes during the requested term and in good standing with financial aid. Students will also be asked to show proof of their specific financial hardship. On top of these requirements, the request also has to be for an “unforeseen need,” said Navarro. 

The emergency funds are a one-time use resource, and not meant to cover month-to-month expenses like rent, said Jamie Wenigman, the Development Coordinator for the Chemeketa Foundation. 

“And the things that are generally not covered are regular anticipated or ongoing non-emergency relief items,” said Wenigman. “Non-essential utilities like the phone, cable or internet, and parking permits, tickets, library fines, or other fines, mistakenly incurred or preventable expenses. Normal, anticipated academic expenses are already covered through financial aid.”

“I am not saying that we have not helped students with their rent,” said Navarro. “[But] it could be a situation like this last student, where she got really sick unexpectedly. She ended up in urgent care, and, eventually, she was sent to the E.R, so she had this huge bill. What does she do? Does she pay her rent, or does she pay her bill?”

Unexpected expenses can throw a student’s budget off track and force them to quit school, said Navarro. “That help helps them stay in school. That is really the goal of this program. The student emergency fund is meant to help them, so they are able to finish [their degree.]” 

The program also seeks to connect in-need students to other resources, said Navarro. In the case of the above student, the emergency funds allocated were not able to cover both the entire bill and her monthly rent. Instead, they were able to help her find other resources to make her payment. “We do our best to help as much as we can, but then at the same time, try to find other resources [to] supplement a lot of that stuff.”

“Even though our emergency fund is for one-time use, [the coordinators] can get students connected with resources that can help kind of give that overall coverage and get connected with those folks who can help them create a budget [and] try to get them out of those situations,” said Wenigman. 

Students in need of emergency financial assistance can fill out an online application through the Chemeketa website at go.chemeketa.edu/emergency%20fund.

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