Following the closure of most residence halls and dining options due to COVID-19, the Student Emergency Fund through the Pack Essentials initiative is working to provide money for NC State students who are dealing with food, housing and financial insecurity during the pandemic, according to Mike Giancola, director of Student Ombuds.
The expansion of the fund was made possible by a recent $500,000 donation, Giancola said.
Any student is able to apply to the Student Emergency Fund through the Pack Essentials website for financial aid. However, the university will focus on students who:
Are experiencing housing, food and financial insecurity
Facing unexpected travel expenses when returning to their permanent residences
Have children and need assistance with daycare
Need assistance with technology to take classes online or access to high-speed wifi
Currently face unemployment at an off-campus job
“Certainly, we will look at any or all applications that come through, but those are the main priority areas in order to meet and help students’ basic needs and help them be successful and complete their semester,” Giancola said.
Once a student submits a Pack Essentials application, it will be sent to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid and Giancola at Student Ombuds. Together, they will see how any potential aid may impact a student’s current financial aid package, straying away from any financial aid that may negatively impact a student’s existing aid, Giancola said.
“After this discussion, I reach out to the student directly and learn more about their situation and what resources I can recommend,” Giancola said. “If they are approved through the Student Emergency Fund, I communicate that with Financial Aid.”
The money given to the student by the Student Emergency Fund will go into the student’s direct deposit account that is on file at the university.
“Traditionally with the Student Emergency Fund, prior to coronavirus, we had a cap of $500 for every student,” Giancola said. “However in this case, we are seeing extenuating circumstances, so we are working to try to assist students on a case-by-case basis and help them in any way we can.”
According to Giancola, the office is processing applications with a 1- to 2-day turnaround. However, it typically takes the bank 1-3 days to process the wire transfer.
To prepare for the possibility of a large number of applications and to continue responding to students in a timely manner, the financial aid office and Student Ombuds are training additional staff members to help process applications, Giancola said.
“Any number of students who apply, we will look at their applications and try our best to help them,” Giancola said. “In some cases, there may be other resources that are needed. For example, not every student who applies may need an emergency fund, but other resources. We will help every student who applies in the best way for their situation.”