Emergency funds available for students in need


For students in need, emergency funds are available to keep them progressing toward a degree.

Logan Metzger

When life sends someone a curve at an unexpected time, Iowa State can lend a financial helping hand with emergency scholarships to keep them progressing toward a degree.

“They are for one-time things a student could not have foreseen happening,” said Roberta Johnson, director of student financial aid, in a press release. “It can get them through that particular emergency or crisis and get them back on track, at least financially.”

Every case is handled individually, whether the problem is overdue rent, a death in the family or needed car repairs to make the commute to Ames. There are no formal criteria for an emergency scholarship, but Johnson said she needs documentation to verify need before disbursing funds. She estimates emergency funds are used 20 to 30 instances each year, this money coming from a variety of sources.

“We do have some residual dollars in scholarship accounts,” Johnson said in a press release. “We might have a student walk in with an emergency, and they otherwise meet the criteria for a scholarship, but they didn’t get it. Maybe we can offer them money from that scholarship because we have some residual funds left.”

Johnson said the emergency funds can make a big impact, even though the need is often just a few hundred dollars.

The primary contact for students in need of financial assistance is the Student Services Offices or the Dean of Students Office. Student services staff then work with Johnson’s staff to try to resolve the issue.

“Our colleges have done an excellent job of making the faculty and staff aware that if they see a student in distress, they refer them to Student Services or to our office,” Johnson said in a press release. “Student Services staff really are our eyes and ears on the ground.”

Johnson said a student’s need may be more than one office can provide. In recent years, the office of student financial aid has partnered more with colleges to pool resources and provide money to students in emergency situations.

“We had a young lady whose mother died, and she is trying to navigate how to pay for the funeral while also paying for school,” Johnson said in a press release. “It always amazes me how our students have the tenacity in a very difficult situation to stay in school and navigate that.”

More donors have contributed to the completion grant program as word has spread. Donors often sympathize with students, recalling having to take time away during their college years to earn money to be able to return and complete their degree, Johnson said.

“We appreciate whatever support we receive to help our students remain in school and graduate,” Johnson said in a press release. “That is the ultimate goal: to have them at Iowa State.”