Calgary

Help available for Calgary university students suffering financially due to COVID-19

Student associations at Calgary universities say they're getting more questions about emergency funding and support for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Our main focus has been ensuring that students get the information that they need when they need it'

As the COVID-19 crisis leaves more and more students in dire financial straits, there are emergency programs they can access at both the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University, officials say. (University of Calgary)

Student associations at Calgary universities say they're getting more questions about emergency funding and support for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And it's expected the need will only grow.

Jessica Revington, president of the Students' Union at the University of Calgary, says there's been a slight increase in students looking for financial support compared with what's usual.

"But we do anticipate that this number will increase significantly as the financial impact of COVID-19 becomes apparent," she said.

She says students can apply for  "last-resort funding" of up to $1,500 through the Students' Union Hardship Fund to cover essentials like rent, tuition and food.

"Over the past couple of weeks, our main focus has been ensuring that students get the information that they need when they need it. So we've been trying different ways on social media to get in touch with students providing them with resources and links to various community support that students can reach out to during this time," she said.

The university says it's also in the process of setting up a dedicated fund for students who need emergency funding during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Graduate Students' Association also has emergency funding available.

Shereen Samuels, student services director for the Students' Association of Mount Royal University, says they're seeing lots of demand for a new food hamper program that was launched March 18 in response to COVID-19.

In the first week, they gave away seven hampers, in the second week 25, and on Monday of this week alone they gave away 19.

"So we're definitely seeing increasing usage of that program," she said.

The association also has a short-term loan program where students can access up to $300 at a time.

Student groups say students can find out what supports are available by going online, or calling their offices.

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