Use in Case of Emergency
When students drop out of Indiana University, it isn’t always because of poor grades.
Sometimes, the cause can be something as simple as an unpaid utility bill, a late financial aid check, or the loss of a job.
A new loan program made possible by the Parents Fund means fewer students will have to leave IU for such relatively nonacademic reasons. The Parents Fund, which is supported by gifts from IU parents, seeks out ways to improve the lives of students. What better way to do that than to ensure they remain students?
IU’s Student Advocates Office oversees this new loan program, which happens to be great news for another reason. With the Parents Fund loan program in place, the SAO can dedicate a second student assistance fund, the Beverly Warren Emergency Fund, to providing free grants, rather than loans, to students who have even more dire financial problems. Depending on the circumstance, the advocates can choose from one fund or the other to aid students in financial trouble.
Worst Case Scenarios
“We have found having both funds to be transformative,” says Sally Jones, director of the SAO. “The loan program means we have been able to make more, and larger, grants to students who wouldn’t be helped by a short-term loan.”
Sally remembers one student in particular. He couldn’t pay a $600 bursar bill. His mother was chronically ill, and he already held two jobs. “He was a good student,” she says. “Not honor roll, but he had invested a lot in his education. And IU had invested a lot in him.”
After much discussion about a loan, the student told Jones, “I just want you to know I humbly appreciate what you have done. But I simply cannot borrow any more money. I cannot promise I will be able to pay it back in time.”
An Inspired Beginning
Sally says in such a case a grant is warranted. And these are the kinds of students Beverly Warren wanted to help. Prior to Sally, she was the office’s longtime director. Sally counts her as a mentor and the inspiration for the fund, created after Beverly retired.
“I always thought we should have an emergency fund,” says Warren. “When they named it after me, I was shocked and thoroughly delighted.” For Sally, Beverly was the natural choice for the name. “She was the director, but she was never too busy to work with students, to listen to them, and to help them find solutions.”
An Office That Cares
These days, IU is a pretty big place. It’s the reason students have an advocates office. “Things are so complex now,” says Warren. “Sometimes, you need people who know the system to help students find their way.”
Having two funds to draw on makes an enormous difference in the advocates’ ability to offer assistance. Jones notes that with a bad economy, more students are coming to her for help. “We have to be careful,” she admits. “The Warren Fund in particular is a last resort.”
But for those it helps, it means a chance to continue their IU education. And thanks to parents, more students will be able to turn to this last resort. That will keep IU students in school, where they belong.