First lady McPhee led effort to create emergency fund
MURFREESBORO — Middle Tennessee State University students who find themselves in a financial pinch can now apply for one-time emergency micro-grants aimed at keeping them in school and on track to earning their degree.
Through a wave of local community support and the existing Lewis Hazelwood Student Emergency Fund, MTSU has a pool of funds to help students with emergency needs. The micro-grants are designed to help with verified needs associated with the student’s education such as tuition, fees, books, housing and transportation.
Grants up to $250 are available to qualified undergraduate, graduate and international students. The grant does not have to be repaid, however, a student may receive it only once during their tenure at MTSU. To be eligible, students must be in academic good standing, with a minimum 2.0 GPA at the time of the request.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee applauded the community support of students, many of whom remain in the Midstate area following their graduation and invest back into the campus and the surrounding community.
Creation of the funding source followed an effort spearheaded by McPhee’s wife, Elizabeth McPhee, who called on area churches and community members to consider financial support of needy students. She pointed to the help she and her husband received years ago as graduate students that helped them continue their education.
“Building Community: An Event for MTSU” was organized by a committee of local church leaders and held Jan. 12 at World Outreach Church. The event and local support that followed has generated more than $10,000 thus far.
“This community effort illustrates perfectly the values within our True Blue Pledge of being recipients and givers, as well as being engaged in the life of this community,” President McPhee said. “The success of our students remains the top priority of this university, and these funds are a concrete expression of this community’s commitment to helping us fulfill that mission. We are truly grateful for the support.”
The Jan. 12 event was also connected to the True Blue Community Initiative, a grassroots effort launched by the Rev. James McCarroll of First Baptist Church last September to deepen support for MTSU academics and athletics across all segments of the community. McCarroll was among six local pastors who spoke at the event.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund can do so online at http://www.mtsu.edu/StudentFund/. Contributions can also be mailed to the Office of Development, MTSU PO Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. Be sure to make the check to the MTSU Foundation and designate the gift to the “MTSU Student Assistance Fund” on the memo line. Gifts without designation will be placed into the Annual Fund.
Such emergency aid is also in line with recommendations in MTSU’s Quest for Student Success, a plan advanced by Provost Brad Bartel and approved by President McPhee, that called for more short-term emergency aid to help students set back by small, unexpected debts.
James Lee, president of the Student Government Association, notes that many MTSU students are first-generation college students like him, many of whom are juggling academic and work demands in pursuit of a degree. (Watch a video message from Lee about the fund at http://youtu.be/BdRnvbWRuVw.)
“For many of us, a relatively small financial barrier can cause a delay in our studies,” Lee said.
Funds are divided among the academic colleges to award grants as approved by the dean’s office. Interested students should contact their college adviser or their dean’s office. A student must be classified as degree seeking and be enrolled in six credit hours during fall/spring semesters and/or enrolled in three credit hours during the summer.
Students must show satisfactory academic progress as determined by the Financial Aid Office, however those currently on financial aid probation or financial aid suspension are not eligible. Students receiving other forms of financial aid may not receive the micro-grant if it will cause them to exceed their allowable cost of attendance calculation.
Information about the micro-grant and other emergency aid available to students can be found at http://mtsu.edu/studentsuccess/crisis-aid.php.