FMU supports students through COVID-19 Relief Fund


Photo by: Julia Fulmer

The Covid-19 Response Office located in the Smith University Center

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, FMU created a fund to support affected students, faculty and staff in 2020. As of Feb., 2022, the COVID Relief Fund is a pillar of support within the current COVID climate.  

In the post-quarantine era, FMU re-opened its campus to students, faculty and staff, many of which had been adversely affected by the pandemic through loss. The government provided the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to colleges and universities across the U.S., and FMU distributed the funds to students.  

The first distributions to students were granted automatically in May of 2020 based on the “greatest financial need demonstrated by their free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)” to help with expenses related to disruptions made by the pandemic, according to the FMU website. After the initial funding, the university evaluated students individually to determine eligibility for additional funds.  

After the Cares Act, from which the HEERF originated, was dispersed, FMU’s President, Dr. Fred Carter, initiated an additional resource for the community in need: the COVID Relief Fund.  

According to John Sweeney, Vice President of Communications at FMU, the COVID Relief Fund was created by President Carter to assist with needs related to the pandemic that could not be helped by alternate resources. A crucial aspect of eligibility for the COVID Relief Fund is related to needs with a direct relationship to COVID.  

“FMU has offered similar relief funds in the past, including to those affected by hurricanes and tropical storms, as well as a prior COVID relief fund offered in 2020,” Sweeney said.  

The COVID Relief Fund is overseen by a three-member committee whose job is to review all applications thoroughly and evaluate eligibility for funds based on strict guidelines. The three-member committee includes the Director of Institutional Planning, Dr. Cheri Richardson, the Associate Provost, Allison Steadman and the Dean of Students, Latasha Brand. They review all applications confidentially and reach out to students with additional information and eligibility status.  

According to Sweeney, as of Jan. 31, FMU’s COVID Relief Fund granted 37 requests for assistance, totaling $8,720 in aid since the fund was announced on Jan. 10.  

As it stands, the fund will continue to assist members of the FMU community as long as COVID stays present and continues its adverse effects. There is a detailed application process to qualify for aid, but the help is there if eligibility requirements are met.  

If you are looking for aid from the fund, travel to the FMU webpage ( Below statistics and contact information, there will be a heading labeled “COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund” with a blue box underneath that says “Apply Here.” Clicking the blue box will take you directly to the application.  

The guidelines are outlined at the top of the page and the bottom of the page has the basic application.  

Here are the guidelines: 

  • Applications may be submitted by current FMU faculty, staff, or students; 
  • Applicants must be experiencing a current need directly related to COVID-19 and will need to document the need for eligibility; 
  • Requests without supplemental income will be given special consideration; 
  • The committee will review each application and contact applicants if additional information is needed; 
  • Funds will be awarded up to $250 per documented request; 
  • All requests will be handled with discretion and confidentiality. 
  • The committee will prioritize relief fund requests from students to provide emergency funds for expenses directly related to coronavirus (expenses such as food, temporary housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare). Tuition and fee support is not provided through this process; students with tuition and/or fee difficulties will be directed to the Financial Assistance office; 
  • Faculty and/or staff will need to show a documented need for COVID-19 related expenses; 
  • By submitting a relief fund request, applicants affirm their need and that funds will be used for those documented purposes. 

After the initial application is completed, a follow-up email will be received requesting elaboration on the need. This additional information will include much more specific information regarding proof of COVID incident, proof of lost income, a plan of use for aid money granted, etc. Once all the information is sent in, the committee will review the information and confirm or deny eligibility.  

If you or anyone you know have been personally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, fill out an application. The aid is not guaranteed, but it is always worth a shot (no pun intended).  

For additional information about COVID, there are active updates about active cases, quarantine, statistics, etc., all related to the pandemic on campus located on the aforementioned webpage ( The COVID Response Office, located in the Smith University Center (UC), can be reached through email (, phone (843-661-4665) or in-person—be sure to wear your mask!