Sponsored by the Military & Veterans Center, one-time grant will help members of Towson University’s veteran community who have been affected by the novel coronavirus.
The mission of the Towson University Military & Veterans Center (MVC) is to support TU's student-veterans and their families.
That’s why it’s not unusual to see many of its community meeting, studying or just hanging out in the MVC offices on the first floor of the Psychology Building.
But what happens when there are no students on campus? The MVC is still there.
The center has teamed with the Division of Student Affairs to create the Emergency Grant Fund for MVC students to support TU’s veteran population who might be dealing with financial problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This one-time grant is for veteran students who are experiencing an unexpected financial emergency that detrimentally affects their academic progress toward their degree.
“Part of my job is thinking actively about what we can do to help our student-veterans,” says Dario DiBattista, director of TU’s MVC. “It’s hard because a lot of our students work part-time to help pay their bills, and now they are without work."
According to DiBattista, many students use their GI Bill—a stipend that provides financial support for a military service member’s education—for their tuition and fees, with a small amount left for monthly housing.
But for some veterans, that’s not enough to live on, especially those with spouses and children. Many work at restaurants, as part-time physical trainers or at other side jobs to pay bills while earning their degrees.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a shutdown of most businesses, many have lost their income. In response, TU has deployed its student emergency fund and launched a faculty/staff emergency fund to offer assistance to those in need.
DiBattista is hoping that the MVC fund, which is supported by the center’s TU Foundation account, will help student-veterans with food, toiletries, necessary medications, education expenses related to online classes, essential utilities, books, technology or other emergent needs.
“The reason for the MVC is that military is such a strong experience that creates strong bonds,” DiBattista says. “Veterans taking care of veterans, that’s what we’re trying to do. Most of our students need help but don’t ask for it. We want them to know we’re going to take care of you however we can.”
The MVC grant was modeled after the Student Affairs’ Emergency Grant Fund and has already been awarded to 10 students. The awarding board consists of DiBattista, Tracy Miller, a former manager of TU’s Transfer Advising Program and Jayne French, executive administrative assistant for Student Affairs.
Miller, who is now retired from TU, knows a lot about helping veterans. She has established a scholarship for student-veterans after her son Nick, a Marine, was killed in Iraq. She was also instrumental in developing the MVC.
She has looked at donating some of the scholarship money to the emergency grant.
“I want these students to be treated as well as I hope Nick would have been had he returned,” Miller says. “I care about the welfare of our students; my entire career was serving students. Veterans have sacrificed so much on our behalf, and so I want to make sure they don’t suffer.”
French is providing students with financial advice. Some of the main issues students are facing right now are car payments, car insurance, rent, mortgages, internet access, utilities and food.
French is helping them talk with their individual lender and assuring them they are not alone.
“I am trying to stay on top of resources during COVID-19 to be able to offer financial resources a person may not be aware of,” French says. “They don’t need added stress of trying to figure out daily needs while taking care of their families and keeping up with school.
“The assistance Towson University is giving will help to reduce the strain on them.”
The Military & Veteran’s Center Grant Fund is open to all current Towson University students who have served in the U.S. military.
The funds are limited; however, and awards will be based on three main factors: extent of the need, urgency of the need and total amount available.
Click here to apply (All applications will be treated with the utmost privacy and confidentiality.)
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.