Emergency relief funds in the form of a zero interest loan will soon be available for Florida Tech students facing financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Florida Tech’s Senior Vice President of Development, Gary Grant, the Panther Fund — typically used to support scholarships — is now also being used as emergency funds for some students in crisis because of the Coronavirus.
“If a student’s mother or father lost their job and can’t make tuition, we don’t want that to happen,” Grant said. “We don’t want freshmen to have to derail their educational experiences either.”
Rodney Bowers, Florida Tech’s dean of student, said that students awarded with aid must sign an agreement to accept the zero-interest loan terms and repayment schedule.
U.S. News defines a zero interest loan as one where only the principal balance must be repaid by a specified deadline.
Florida Tech already has an emergency relief fund from revenue generated from the sale of Florida Tech’s license plates. However, Grant said that he would like to expand upon that emergency fund.
Grant said that as of April 21, Florida Tech’s office of development has raised $60,000 for COVID-19 relief funds; $10,000 of which has been donated by alumni and a large portion has also been donated by Florida Tech parents.
Grant cited some of the uses for funds as moving fees or aid to cover the cost of computers for online classes.
Students wishing to apply for COVID-19 emergency funds must submit a request in writing to Bowers, explaining why they need financial aid from the university and what adequate evidence they have to verify their reasoning.
“Awards are completely discretionary,” Bowers said in an email. “The university cannot fund every request and must make difficult decisions based on each particular case and the availability of funds.”
According to Bowers, funds will be made available for students once enough money has been raised.
One local organization that donated to the Panther Relief Fund was Indiafest Brevard — a multicultural awareness event that was expected to occur in March, but was canceled because of the Coronavirus.
Yasmin Majeed, co-chair of Indiafest Brevard, said that their $40,000 donation to Florida Tech’s Panther Relief Fund was a philanthropic effort to help a local institution.
“We chose Florida Tech because it’s right in our own backyard,” Majeed said. “We don’t want students to have to curtail their education because of financial hardships.”
Majeed added that Indiafest Brevard is happy to give back to the community, and knows there is a need for students in the area.
Grant noted that Florida Tech’s Office of Development hopes to keep fundraising until the end of the fiscal year, June 30. He also added that the university will be hosting a day of giving for COVID-19 emergency funds on May 5.
Updates were made to this story on April 22 at 2:40 p.m. to clarify that the relief funds are in the form of a zero interest loan.