Many University of Mississippi Medical Center students are one emergency away from having their studies derailed.
With that in mind, an anonymous donor gave funds to start a Student Benevolence Fund, which will be administrated through UMMC’s Office of Student Affairs. The donor, a 1974 School of Medicine graduate, hopes others will join in giving to the fund to help students continue their studies.
“An unforeseen crisis such as a fire, accident or illness can stretch students’ finances to the breaking point,” said Dr. Hanna Broome, chief student affairs officer. “Through this generous gift, students who are hit with an emergency that is out of their control can get financial help so they can continue their studies and graduate from UMMC on time.”
Students from UMMC’s six schools of health – Dentistry, Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, Health Related Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Population Health – can apply for help from the Student Benevolence Fund via Workday. School of Pharmacy students should apply for funding through the University of Mississippi.
To be eligible to receive funds, applicants must be enrolled students in UMMC academic degree programs. Students on leave of absence or planning to withdraw or take a leave of absence are not eligible.
The applicant must describe a genuine crisis that significantly affects the applicant’s ability to meet basic needs or continue in a UMMC academic degree program. The applicant must provide supporting documentation to verify the crisis, such as medical records, police reports, eviction notices, or other relevant documents.
Eligible crises can include sudden illness or a medical emergency, unforeseen loss of housing due to natural disaster, fire or other catastrophic events or a financial hardship from an unexpected circumstance such as job loss or auto accident.
An applicant must provide a detailed plan outlining how they intend to take some financial responsibility for their situation and move forward. This plan should demonstrate the applicant’s commitment to resolving the crisis and continuing in a UMMC academic degree program. This can include how a student is seeking additional sources of funds, reducing expenses and showing intent to continue enrollment at UMMC.
“We want to see students finding ways to move forward and take responsibility,” Broome said. “The Student Benevolence Fund is designed to help them in that process.”
Applications are reviewed by the UMMC Student Benevolence Fund Committee, which includes representatives from the offices of Student Affairs, Student Financial Services and Student Accounting. Funding is recommended based on factors including the severity and impact of the crisis on the student’s ability to continue in a UMMC academic degree program, efforts and commitment of the student to taking financial responsibility for the situation, availability of funds, eligibility, documentation and the impact on the applicant’s financial aid package.
If funding is not recommended, the committee will recommend other resources and referrals to help applicants through the situations they are facing. These can include the Student Counseling and Wellness Center and the Student Assistance Program.
“If a student is declined, we want to leave them with a positive message and other options for getting help,” said Dr. Penni Foster, associate chief student affairs officer.
The new Student Benevolence Fund could be the difference between a student completing a degree on time or leaving school, said Associated Student Body President Reagan Moak. “This opportunity has the ability to alleviate financial stressors that many students may face, which I believe will have an overall positive impact on their wellbeing. UMMC students are grateful for the philanthropy and thought behind this generous gift.”
Donations can be made to the fund by visiting the UMMC Development and Alumni Engagement webpage. Choose “Other” from the menu, and then specify “Student Benevolence Fund” when completing an online gift.
By Annie Oeth/UMMC Public Affairs