Struggling to stay in school as a result of unexpected financial difficulties? A new program, We Are Aggie Pride, strives to help those students in need.
“It’s an emergency fund set up by students, for students, to address the gap left between financial aid, personal funding and loans,” said Rajiv Narayan, director of communications for We Are Aggie Pride, who is also an Aggie columnist.
Zena Brown founded this program when she heard about a similar program at K-State University from a fellow Student Alumni Association board member during a leadership conference in August 2010.
“Once I heard about it I knew I wanted to create something just like it on our campus,” Brown said in an e-mail interview. “I really saw the need for a program like this, and I know that in these hard economic times if we come together we can really make a difference.”
Students can begin submitting applications and students will start receiving awards Spring quarter.
The applications will be reviewed in the context of immediate need. Applicants are required to have a FAFSA or Dream Act on file and must be a registered undergraduate UC Davis student. In addition, applicants must explain their current income and need for additional funding.
While there is no real restriction of how much money each student can receive, the selection committee will take into consideration how much money there is in the fund, keeping in mind the goal to help as many students as possible, Brown said.
“Students can ask for whatever they want but we award them whatever we determine appropriate,” Narayan said.
The awards will be determined by a committee of students supported by a member of the financial aid office. Students interested in serving on this selection committee can e-mail the awards director Sarah Hoover at email@example.com for more information.
“That individual [from the financial aid office] isn’t going to impact the decision but can explain financial circumstances so the committee can make an informed decision,” said Fred Wood, vice chancellor of Student Affairs. “This is a student-initiated, student-led endeavor so it’s appropriate that students will be involved in the selection of the recipient.”
Students who contribute to the fund will be given a limited edition “We Are Aggie Pride” T-shirt. Wearing this T-shirt will allow donors to get a 10 percent discount at various Davis businesses such as Pinkberry, Woodstock’s and 3rd & U. In addition, donors are invited to Donor Appreciation Days where there will be food and entertainment. The minimum contribution to the fund is $10.
“[Philanthropy] is a very personal decision,” Wood said. “I think it’s hard to justify what would lead someone to donate. As vice chancellor of Student Affairs, I’m constantly looking for a way to retain and graduate our students. The idea of ensuring students can complete their degree — that touches my heart.”
Narayan highlighted the fact that this program is a way for students to help other students right now.
“We can’t rely on systemic solutions to things such as tuition hikes and the budget crisis,” Narayan said. “A piece of legislation in the California Senate will not help a person who has to pay rent tomorrow.”
We Are Aggie Pride will be holding an event on the Quad today where the Cal Aggie Band-Uh! will be performing and students can get free cupcakes.
AKSHAYA RAMANUJAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.