By Beth Casteel
Last year, it was reported that the university would be implementing a Dash emergency grant program that would assist students in paying for unexpected expenses that could deter a student from coming to school.
Those expenses — that include medical bills, car repairs, rent and other emergency expenses — are then paid for by the university in order to help them get back on their feet.
During last year’s opening with the program, the university saw a large number of students applying to the program. So much so, that Cleveland State had to stop accepting applications in order to have some funds for the spring semester.
With such success, the university was able to bring back the program for a second year, which, as noted by Peter Meiksins, vice provost for academic programs at Cleveland State, was possible after they received a two-year grant from the Great Lakes foundation.
Following last year’s grant of $100,000, the university was given $150,000 this school year in order to help those in a financial crisis. If a student is struggling with a financial emergency, the Dash Grant is offered as a one-time award that will assist students with up to $1,000 to cover any emergency or unexpected expense.
As of right now, Great Lakes has provided the university with a set of eligibility requirements for the grant. Students must be degree-seeking, currently enrolled undergraduates of the university. In addition to that, they must have a FAFSA on file, and they must meet some sort of income requirement.
Once they meet the requirements, students are then asked to fill out an application for the Dash grant, where they must provide information on what the situation is and what they need help paying for.
While the university has set rules of eligibility in place, Meiksins explains that the process and requirements could change in the coming years. Currently, the university has been given funding for the grant up until the end of the 2019 spring semester.
“The goal is to try to find a way to fund this [after the grant with Great Lakes is done],” Meiksins said. “We’re working on trying to find either a donor, or to see where else we can get money from to continue it. Once we’re paying for it, or once somebody other than Great Lakes is paying for it, the question of what the rules would be is open for discussion.”
While the university is trying to find other ways of funding the program, it remains to be seen what exactly the future holds for the Dash grant. Until the university is able to find another source of funding for the program, they’ve been working on helping as many students as they can while they have the opportunity to.
As it stands, the university has had a steady flow of applicants since the fall semester started. Meiksins notes that the school has already fulfilled half a dozen grants, and they have more in the process of being filled.
With the grant continuing to be of assistance to students in emergency crisis, there’s also hope that it will allow students to come to the university for other problems.
Meiksins went on to explain that not many students realize how many resources around the campus are available for those in need, and a program like the Dash grant could assist them in other areas if need be.
“Often, when a student has a problem, it’s the tip of the iceberg. Students should feel comfortable telling us [when they have a problem],” Meiksins said. “The whole idea of this is to try to get everybody connected so that if a student wonders into one office needing help from a different office, they can get connected to the resources that are there.”