While col­lege is an excit­ing time for many stu­dents, oth­ers have the stress­ful real­i­ty of financ­ing their edu­ca­tion to sup­port their dreams. Two grants from the Auen Foun­da­tion aim to alle­vi­ate that bur­den for some local col­lege stu­dents caught in what is termed a “gap.” This is where many stu­dents fall when they don’t qual­i­fy for state and fed­er­al need-based aid, but have dif­fi­cul­ty pay­ing for col­lege expens­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly when unfore­seen cir­cum­stances arise.

Many stu­dents are above the income thresh­old, but are still strug­gling to pay for school and the cost of liv­ing,” said Peter Stur­geon, with the Col­lege of the Desert (COD) Foun­da­tion, which received a $50,000 grant to assist stu­dents in its rig­or­ous nurs­ing pro­gram. “This is espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult for those peo­ple sup­port­ing more than just them­selves. Many of our nurs­ing stu­dents are sin­gle par­ents and vet­er­ans, look­ing to improve their lives and the finan­cial secu­ri­ty of their families.”

These funds will help stu­dents who are prob­a­bly already mak­ing sac­ri­fices and fac­ing chal­lenges to attend uni­ver­si­ty,” said Dr. Sharon Brown-Wel­ty, Dean of Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Bernardi­no (CSUSB) Palm Desert Cam­pus, which received a $50,000 grant ear­marked for emer­gency assis­tance for qual­i­fy­ing students.

As stu­dents apply for these emer­gency grants, CSUSB Palm Desert Cam­pus admin­is­tra­tors plan to col­lect addi­tion­al data to deter­mine con­sis­tent obsta­cles that impede on col­lege stu­dents’ suc­cess­es. It is already known that the col­lege attain­ment rate in the Coachel­la Val­ley is less than 30 per­cent for all adults, and only 12 per­cent for His­pan­ic adults, which make up 40 per­cent of the com­mu­ni­ty. Under­stand­ing how to attract and sup­port addi­tion­al stu­dents is a com­po­nent of how the Auen Foun­da­tion gift will fur­ther assist CSUSB Palm Desert Campus.

The Auen Foun­da­tion believes in the impor­tance of high­er edu­ca­tion in our com­mu­ni­ty, and we con­tin­u­al­ly look for ways to part­ner with our local col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties,” said Catharine Reed, Senior Pro­gram Offi­cer of the Auen Foun­da­tion. “A col­lege edu­ca­tion is becom­ing increas­ing­ly crit­i­cal for job secu­ri­ty, and we want to sup­port those stu­dents in our area who are mak­ing a com­mit­ment to achieve that goal.”

Each insti­tu­tion has its own appli­ca­tion process to qual­i­fy stu­dents for grants between $1,500-$2,500 per cal­en­dar year to sup­port imme­di­ate and short-term chal­lenges that hin­der indi­vid­ual suc­cess. Fund­ing is allo­cat­ed on a case-by-case basis, but pos­si­ble uses may include text­book and oth­er course sup­plies, short-term trans­porta­tion needs, sup­port for house­hold basics in extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances, or tem­po­rary child­care resources.

An incred­i­ble 60 per­cent of our stu­dents qual­i­fy for max­i­mum fed­er­al and state finan­cial aid, and 36 per­cent of our stu­dents live at or below the pover­ty line. For stu­dents scrap­ing to assure they are in col­lege, the expens­es of books and even food and trans­porta­tion can be addi­tion­al bar­ri­ers we are work­ing to over­come by estab­lish­ing this pro­gram through the gen­er­ous sup­port of the Auen Foun­da­tion,” said Dr. Brown-Welty.

Sup­port of high­er edu­ca­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in fields relat­ed to med­i­cine and ser­vices aimed at meet­ing the needs of mature adults and their fam­i­lies, aligns with the Auen Foundation’s mis­sion to enhance the qual­i­ty of life for the aging population.

For more infor­ma­tion about these emer­gency schol­ar­ships con­tact the inde­pen­dent insti­tu­tions. CSUSB Palm Desert Cam­pus is locat­ed at 37500 Cook Street, Palm Desert; vis­it www.pdc.csusb.edu or call (760) 341‑2883. For Col­lege of the Desert, locat­ed at 43–500 Mon­terey Ave, Palm Desert, vis­it: www.collegeofthedesert.edu or call (760) 346‑8041. D