By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
As COVID-19 continues to spread and impact Baylor students around the world, the university has set up the President’s Excellence Fund to provide awards of up to $1,000 to support various students in need. $261,000 in awards have already been distributed to applicants.
This fund will contribute to purchasing laptops and internet access for students who may not have these things for online coursework. It will also provide support for housing challenges, food insecurity, support for those who have lost wages, jobs and emergency medical and mental health services.
In order for applicants to be eligible, they must be enrolled at Baylor University as a full-time student with a FAFSA on file. They must also not have current financial aid awards that exceed the cost of their education. However, GPA is not factored into the decision process.
David Rosselli, vice president for advancement at Baylor, said that $1,000 is the predicted average gift size that will go to students.
“We think that we’re going to get over 1,000 students that apply. We feel that there is going to be over a million dollar’s worth of needs that we need to satisfy,” Rosselli said.
The university is considering doing a one-to-one match with the amount donated to reach the million dollar goal.
The website for this fund was posted to the Student Financial Services website, the main Baylor webpage and the COVID-19 site before being shared with the entire Baylor family.
Rosselli said that around 10% of the student population is currently expressing the need for financial assistance during this time. However, as notification of the fund continues to grow, this percentage may increase.
“All the residual fallout from the pandemic, with restaurants closing down and work-study jobs shriveling up and your regular counseling appoints are now thrown into a tizzy, you’re doing it online,” Rosselli said. “There’s just a lot of things that give us cause to lean into this initiative because it’s something that’s a pressing need to the students.”
In her Facebook Live Question and Answer session yesterday, Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone also answered questions about the President’s Excellence Fund and student aid.
“[We] are doing everything we can to try to help meet those needs in ways that are appropriate within the context of financial aid guidelines that we have,” Livingstone said. “And then certainly as we have more information about the Stimulus package, or the support package that the government passed that will help students, we will be sharing that information as well.”
As of today, 882 students have applied for assistance with the President’s Excellence Fund and 280 students have already been able to receive funding to total $261,000.
“Within hours of the President’s announcement, the first notices of awards were being sent out to our students,” Rosselli said. “I am grateful for the hard work of so many staff throughout the University who have worked tirelessly to set up a process that is allowing us to respond quickly and efficiently to the real, urgent needs of our students.”
Baylor also has a page where faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends are able to donate either $25, $50, $75, $100 or $1,000 to the fund.
Their name and donation amount will then appear on the donor wall on the website, if they choose.
This fund plans to continue until all needs are met.
Students can request to receive assistance from this fund by filling out a three-step request form to describe their hardship in order to be considered to receive an award.
All applicants will be reviewed by the Office of Student Financial Aid as quickly as possible.
“The Baylor Family is more than just a clever phrase, it’s an intentional commitment to one another, and I am proud to be a member of this incredible community.” Rosselli said.