On April 14, the Institute of International Education (IIE) announced that seven international students from Rutgers University, nominated by Rutgers Global, would receive emergency student fund awards in the amount of $2,500 ($2,907 pre-tax award) each to help with financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
IIE launched the emergency student fund on January 31 to help alleviate financial burdens for students from the Hubei province in China in the wake of the impact of the coronavirus. Rutgers University enrolls a significant population of students from China, so Assistant Vice President of Global Affairs Jeff Wang and the China Office at Rutgers Global led an effort to reach out to students from this region to encourage their applications for these emergency funds.
Dr. Wang noted, “We have more than 150 Rutgers students from the Hubei Province, where the outbreak began, and starting in early January we began monitoring the impact Covid-19 would have on our students.” From early on, he said that Rutgers Global was working to ensure that these impacted students could get relief if needed in the very early stages of outbreak. “Through emergency grants from IIE and around the University, we were able to provide that relief in a very real way to these students.”
In all, twelve students applied for ten nominations for IIE emergency funds. The students, all hailing from Wuhan and the surrounding areas, had experienced hardships when their banks were closed, or when their parents had to stop working due to the coronavirus.
Zixin Wang, a graduate student from the School of Management and Labor Relations, was one of the students who received a grant. She shared that the IIE emergency fund would help her cover her living expenses during the coronavirus outbreak. She said, “It not only lightened the pressure in worrying about whether I can pay for my rent, food, utilities bills and more next month, but it also helped reduce my family's financial burden because they weren’t able to earn any income for half a year.” Wang added, “This [grant] allows me to continue to focus on my studies and advance my learning.”
In the announcement from IIE, Krikor Yeretzian, Global Education in Emergencies Analyst noted that the organization had received an overwhelming response of close to 200 applications for 114 available awards. “The students selected for ESF awards were prioritized by their need and how much they were impacted by the respective crisis. We are sorry that we could not provide support to a greater number of nominees and remain sympathetic of the difficulties that these students face.”
The students who did not receive emergency funds in this round were eligible for new round of IIE funding in April, earmarked for international students studying at IIENetwork Institutions in the US and unable to return to their home countries over the summer.
In addition to the IIE emergency student funds, the Rutgers Global China Office has created an emergency scholarship fund to help support Rutgers international students impacted by COVID-19. To date, Rutgers Global has donated funds to six students in the amount of $4,150, and the plan is to allocate an additional $6,000 to help our international students in the coming months.
The impact is being felt directly by the students who need it most. As Zixin Wang said, “I truly appreciate the support that the IIE Emergency Fund and the Rutgers Global China Office has provided, and the effort made by every person who helped make this happen. I am committed to keep learning with my great passion and gratitude, and to get through the hard times and move forward.”