The Blinn College Foundation has received $15,000 to help students affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The grant from the Bryan-based Greater Texas Foundation will allow currently enrolled students on any of Blinn College’s campuses to apply for up to a $500 individual grant to help meet their financial needs.
“Most of us don’t realize all the heartbreak that our students are going through right now with a loss of jobs, with the loss of their family’s income, and they are in school trying to make ends meet,” Blinn College Foundation Executive Director Susan Myers said.
The additional money, she said, could be what students need to ensure they have food, to purchase a necessary textbook or pay rent.
The grant, awarded earlier this month, is the first out of the Greater Texas Foundation’s newly established local fund created to help support students in the Brazos Valley as they work toward their postsecondary goals, said Allison Pennington, programs and strategy associate with the Greater Texas Foundation.
She said even before COVID-19 the foundation knew the most common reason students leave college or university is an unexpected financial barrier, such as the loss of a job or a major unexpected expense.
“Having those issues pop up and throw your budget off to where the money that you had reserved for your living expenses or for tuition or for books, oftentimes, that can be the difference between a student staying enrolled or stopping out,” Pennington said. “Once they’ve stopped out, it’s a lot more difficult to get back on track.”
In a press release announcing the grant, a survey by the Texas Association of Community Colleges is cited as showing more than half of Texas community college students have lost income or employment due to the pandemic, with 73% saying they would have difficulty acquiring $500 in cash or credit in the next month.
The goal, Pennington said, is to provide students with an “easy-to-access” resource for students to get help for those financial barriers and focus on their studies.
In addition to being the first grant provided out of the local fund, Pennington said, the Blinn College Foundation grant is also the only emergency aid grant the foundation has awarded to a specific institution in response to COVID-19. Its other emergency aid support has been through a program established with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
“We are so honored that the Greater Texas Foundation is there for students across the state of Texas who are really struggling at this time,” Myers said. “We are honored that they have chosen to support us, and we’re blessed that they’re in the state of Texas and helping our students.”
Myers said the Blinn College Foundation has used the grant as a challenge to raise an additional $15,000 to have a total of $30,000 available to distribute to students. The Blinn College Alumni and Friends Association already has contributed $7,500 toward that goal, she said.
All of the Greater Texas Foundation’s grants are funded through an endowment established in 2005 when the foundation sold its stock in LoanSTAR, according to the foundation’s website.
Blinn College students can apply now for the individual emergency aid grants at foundation.blinn.edu.