News: Member News

#Here4Students: NCAN Members Are the Helpers

Monday, April 13, 2020  
Posted by: Carm Saimbre, External Relations Associate
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“When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

A lot of what makes this pandemic nerve-wracking can be boiled down to two words: unprecedented and unknown. Sure, we can prepare for emergencies as best we can, but COVID-19 has brought many organizations and operations to a standstill. FAFSA completions are down. Limited internet access makes it difficult for some students to complete work remotely.

And yet, if you can look past the sad news for a moment, you will see the helpers are here in full force, meeting students’ needs and providing positive supports in the best way they can. Fortunately, we do not have to look very far. NCAN members are the helpers – from virtual office hours and advising, to snail-mail schoolwork and emergency aid, our members are seeing students through to the finish line.

“Philadelphia Futures immediately began leveraging its community of supporters and asking for donations to our Opportunity Fund,” said Sara Woods, executive director of Philadelphia Futures. “These funds allow the organization to help with emergency expenses for students that, if not addressed, will prevent our students from achieving their college dreams.”

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Aid (LOSFA) is actively trying to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on financial aid eligibility, said Brittany Francis, public information & communications director for LOSFA.

Louisiana's governor recently issued Proclamation 41 JBE 2020, which suspends certain requirements for both initial and continuing eligibility for the state's merit-based scholarship program, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). The suspension of these requirements allows students to become eligible for the award, or to continue to receive the award, even if they don't meet all requirements solely due to the impact of social distancing measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.

LOSFA is also leaning on postsecondary partnerships to support students.

The Louisiana Field Outreach Services department partnered with Louisiana Tech University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Grambling State University to provide an array of activities for Louisiana students. These include career advising, third-party online course enrollment, and a Rube Goldberg Machine Physics Challenge Webinar. Dr. Troy Williams of Southeastern Louisiana University is developing and leading challenges that students can complete with household items.

As the largest private scholarship organization in the country, Scholarship America (Minnesota) is working with its partners to streamline the process for “just in time funds” to students for emergency expenses related to COVID-19.

“We’re also working closely with our network of Dollars for Scholars volunteers, ensuring that they can pass along information about funding, online access, and scholarship logistics to students on a local level,” said Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO of Scholarship America.

Speaking of scholarships: Some deadlines for applications may have shifted in response to the pandemic.

“Students, especially those with unexpected extra free time, should be aware of any changes to scholarship deadlines or requirements — some programs are offering applicants more time, loosening requirements on official transcripts and recommendations, or modifying renewal criteria, and others aren’t,” said Ballard.

As hundreds of thousands of students come to grips with a premature end to their school year, NCAN wants to remind you that the commitment to our mission remains steadfast. And it’s NCAN members – our helpers – across the country who help us elevate that mission every day.

“There is value in their education, perhaps now more than ever,” said Aja Moore-Ramos, director of communications at College Track (California). “We see how hard our students are working to continue learning in this difficult environment, and we are inspired by them every day. And we are here for them, no matter what.”

How is your organization supporting students during this time? Let us know via this Google form or on social media using the hashtag, #Here4Students.

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