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Helping Students Make Ends Meet and Stay on Track

Struggling students collage

“Getting funds to our students quickly and efficiently is our highest priority,” according to CSU President Harlan M. Sands. “And helping students reduce financial obstacles is critical if we are to keep them on a pathway to graduate.”

Supporting Students in Trying Times. Founded in 2016, Lift Up Vikes! is a resource center, food pantry, and home of the Fowler Emergency Fund for students facing unforeseen financial circumstances that make it difficult for them to stay in school.

Lift Up Vikes! Resource Center
The resource center connects students with on and off­ campus resources that help them overcome financial emergencies, meet their basic needs, obtain personal finance education, and create comprehensive, sustainable plans for their success. Lift Up Vikes! is located in CSU’s expanded food pantry in centrally located Berkman Hall.

The Fowler Emergency Fund
Housed at the Lift Up Vikes! resource center, the Fowler Emergency Fund provides student grants—not loans­­—of up to $1,000 for emergencies or unexpected expenses.

Funded by a number of private philanthropists and bolstered by a $1 million gift from Clevelanders Chuck and Char Fowler, the Fowler Emergency Fund differs from most student financial aid, in that it does not cover tuition. Instead, it helps students pay for unexpected living costs such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Car repairs
  • Rent to prevent eviction
  • Child care
  • Other emergency expenses
Continuum arrow support

Student Emergency Needs Skyrocket During Coronavirus Pandemic Coronavirus-triggered layoffs, furloughs, and family medical bills have put additional strain on students at CSU.

Between March 16 and April 24 this year, the Fowler Emergency Fund saw an immediate spike in applications for aid due to the effects of the coronavirus. 72 emergency grants were issued that month, compared to 11 in the same timeframe the previous year—a 582% increase. The need for emergency aid is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.

Housing, utilities, and automobile costs (repairs, insurance, etc.) were the three most frequent areas of need in FY 2020, with the dollar amounts apportioned in the following way:

pie chart of dollars awarded

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Lift Up Vikes! has:

  • increased the number of Fowler Team Members conducting grant application intake
  • added a third weekly team meeting
  • shifted to a hybrid of remote and in-person work
  • adapted the physical space in Berkman Hall to meet coronavirus safety protocols. 

For purposes of this grant program, a financial emergency is defined as an unforeseen expense that, if not resolved quickly, could lead to the student’s departure from the college and loss of momentum toward completion.

Unexpected expenses don’t have to mean deciding between staying in school or dropping out. For students experiencing a financial emergency, the Fowler Emergency Fund can make all the difference.

If you are a student looking for support from any of these initiatives, please visit the 2-for-1 Tuition Promise, Lift Up Vikes!, or the Last-Mile Scholarship information pages.

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