University Park, IL,
17:33 PM

Emergency Funds Give Jaguars Hope

Stephanie Maltos is a bright and resourceful Anthropolgy and Sociology  major who arrived at Governors State University (GSU) from Richard J. Daley College in 2019.

Long before she became a Jaguar, Stephanie, 23, had connected with GSU mentors who encouraged her to complete her four-year degree at GSU.

Once she arrived, Stephanie joined student clubs supporting Latinx students, and even helped to drive student engagement and market the university. In the fall, she became a resident assistant (RA), which  came with a housing allowance so she could stop the hour-long commute to and from campus, saving time and money. The position also covered books and a partial meal plan.

But she still struggled, dipping into savings to buy food items not available on campus and personal items because she is ineligible for federal and state resources that many students use to pay tuition and fees. When spring registration rolled around, Stephanie became worried. She still owed tuition from the previous semester.

“I don’t qualify for financial aid, so I didn’t know how I was going to pay tuition,’’ said Stephanie, who left her RA job when the pandemic forced most residents to leave the dorm.

Without her RA job, Stephanie was riddled with anxiety that she wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in school. Then, in February, a mentor on campus encouraged Stephanie to apply to the Student Emergency Fund for a grant.

“The funds will assist me to be able to continue my education, maintain my expected graduation date and relieve anxiety as the semester progresses,’’ Stephanie wrote to the grant selection committee.

A grant for $2,000 came through just in time for her to clear her balance and register for fall classes.  “I still need to figure out how to get the other $1,000 but I’m grateful for what GSU gave me. I never would have been able to get that kind of money in time.”

Rosa Harris also benefited from the Student Emergency Fund after a clerical error left her with a tuition bill she couldn't pay.

The 59-year-old non-traditional student is pursuing a master's degree as an Education Specialist at GSU, following an end to her real estate career 10 yesrs ago.

She'd spent 25 years in the business when the company abruptly closed in a rocky economy. In the blink of an eye, Rosa was out of a job with limited resources to care for her four children.

To help make ends meet for her family, Rosa took a job as an in-home caregiver, making little more than $13 an hour, which helps support her infant and toddler grandchildren. In 2019, she decided to return to school in hopes of making more money, and realizing a lifelong dream of being an educator. But earlier this year, due to a FAFSA error, Rosa received an enormous bill for back tuition that threatened to derail her dreams.

 Without the help of a GSU Student Emergency Fund grant in March, she would not have been able to stay in school.  Though the future remains uncertain, Rosa is hopeful.

"The grant was a life-saver. I love Governors State because of the faculty, the family environment, and I don't want to leave. The grant made it all possible for me to keep going."

To help students like Rosa, please make a contribution to the Governors State Student Emergency Fund, which is supported entirely by donations and has received more than $32,000  to date and helped 24 students like Stephanie and Rosa. To make a gift online today, enter "Student Emergency Fund" under "Other Initiatives."