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OLLU receives $50,000 gift for student emergency fund

Feb 27, 2020

The C B & Anita Branch Trust has donated $50,000 to the OLLU student emergency fund, a gift that will help financially challenged students remain in school.

The fund is designed for students who encounter an unforeseen emergency or a catastrophic event, which would prevent them from continuing their education. Examples include medications or expenses related to medical care, travel costs related to a death or illness in one’s immediate family and assistance with rent or utilities due to an unexpected event.

“We are extremely grateful to the C B & Anita Branch Trust for this generous gift,” said OLLU president Diane Melby, EdD. “Their support of our emergency fund will play a critical role in helping students who face unexpected but urgent needs to complete their education.”

George Williams, PhD, Vice President for Student Affairs, says 90 percent of those who apply for the fund have part-time or full-time jobs. “In the last three years,” Dr. Williams said, “the emergency fund has helped over 30 undergraduate students with urgent and extenuating circumstances.”

Emergency funding is not intended to replace or supplement existing financial aid and does not have to be repaid. Applicants must be currently enrolled and in good financial standing with the university. They must be able to show their financial need with supporting documentation.

“Barriers as small as an unexpected car repair or a broken pair of glasses can derail the college aspirations of our students,” Dr. Williams said. “Every time I engage with a student about requesting emergency funding, I'm reminded how these funds help to keep minor or temporary financial emergencies from derailing students’ progress toward a degree. Just one emergency can upend students’ lives and threaten their ability to complete their degree.”

Dr. Williams received the following note from one student seeking emergency aid: “This award will allow me to continue my classes. It will also allow me to continue to live in my apartment and not worry about where I or my son will live. This will allow me to continue to focus on my final semester and graduate on time. I have worked very hard during my studies, working 48 to 60 hours a week while attending OLLU.“   

Based in San Antonio, the C B & Anita Branch Trust is an independent foundation that primarily supports education, human services and Roman Catholic agencies and churches, including missionary work and schools.