Beginning on Jan 17, members of the Southern New Hampshire University community affected by the partial federal shutdown can apply for funds to assist them with varying levels of financial need.
Paul LeBlanc, SNHU president and CEO, said he and his executive team were driven to establish the emergency fund based in large part upon concerns that the university’s academic advisers were beginning to hear from members of the student population.
“Advisers were just kind of sharing things like ‘I have a student who’s expressing worry, or reporting that her husband or his wife is a federal employee who is struggling, so we prepared to step in and help,” he said.
The aid will be disbursed in payments of $250, $500 and $1,000, and will take the form of direct grants that don’t need to be paid back.
While $1,000 is the maximum for any one request, there’s currently no overall cap on the amount of funding an impacted community member is allowed to receive from the fund.
“You’re not prohibited from coming back because we don’t know how long this shutdown will linger,” said LeBlanc.
“It seems to be going on interminably.”
In order to access the funds, eligible individuals will be required to submit documentation that demonstrates both financial need and their connection to the federal shutdown.
SNHU’s announcement comes as the shutdown enters its fourth week, earning it the status of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
The creation of the emergency fund isn’t the first time the 93,000-student nonprofit university has stepped up to support its own in response to Washington, D.C’s gridlock.
In 2013, SNHU provided funds for active duty military students whose tuition benefits were affected by the automatic sequestration spending cuts that resulted from the failure of Congress and then-President Obama to agree on targeted reductions to trim down the federal deficit.
“This is just kind of how we’re built,” said LeBlanc of his university.
Above all else, LeBlanc said he wanted affected populations in SNHU’s ranks to know that the university is behind them every step of the way.
“We’re here to help,” he said. “When you are in these struggles, it can feel very isolating, it can feel like you’re alone, and they’re not. We have a lot of people who want to be part of the solution.”
LeBlanc went on to deliver a message for the government as well.
“Fix it. Do your job, said LeBlanc. “The average person walking the streets of Manchester today just wants our government to work. And it’s not working for us right now.”
Those with questions regarding eligibility for emergency funds should contact their academic advisers, or review the announcement on the SNHU website: www.snhu.edu.