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Ohio University Microgrants aid students in need

“Microgrants” offered by Ohio University provide emergency assistance to undergraduate and graduate students with unforeseen circumstances. Funds exceed no more than $500 granted to a student at any one time, only once per academic year although some international students use additional resources to stay afloat.

The Student Emergency Fund or “Microgrants” program offered by OU’s Office of the Dean of Students in collaboration with Student Financial Aid and Scholarships allows any currently enrolled students to apply for funds in an emergency when they have run out of all other resources.

According to OU’s website, unforeseen circumstances can include accidents, illness, death of a family member, fire damage or a need for temporary housing. The funding is not intended to reimburse already paid expenses or supplement existing financial aid but rather alleviate short-term financial needs.

Funds of up to $500 are awarded through online applications which are reviewed weekly on a rolling basis. According to the website, awarded funds are directly deposited into a student’s bank account. 

Funds can only cover specific expenses such as replacement of belongings, medical or dental bills, essential utilities, food, child care, safety needs and personal travel only when related to classes or internships. 

According to the website, microgrant funds cannot cover tuition and fees, legal expenses, sorority or fraternity dues, rent, credit card bills and a few other examples listed.

Director of International Student and Scholar Services Diane Cahill said international students are also supported at OU through financial aid in other ways. Cahill said for undergraduate students, the Financial Aid Office is involved and for graduate students, individual departments are in charge of decision-making.

Apart from annually awarded financial aid, Cahill said there are still some international students who struggle due to lack of financial aid but use other resources OU offers.

“I cannot speak from a data perspective; however, I do understand that 80-90% usage of the Cat’s Cupboard on-campus food pantry is international students,” Cahill wrote in an email.

Aside from microgrants or Cat’s Cupboard, Cahill shared part of her directory of resources international students in need are commonly directed toward. 

“We have an emergency fund they can apply for,” Cahill wrote in an email. “As far as other support beyond the emergency fund and the microgrants we do not guide them to anything else financial beyond the ability to have a payment plan with the Bursar’s office.”

For continued support, Cahill says her office still keeps an eye out for additional resources international students may find useful.

“We do let students know when we learn of options through the Institute for International Education or other government programs they may be eligible for when they come up,” Cahill wrote in an email.

Ohio University Media Relations Specialist Samantha Pelham shared more details on the microgrant program. 

“For International students, 14% of the awarded amount may be deducted for income tax withholding,” Pelham wrote in an email. “Assessment is based on the student’s residency status for tax purposes and provisions of any tax treaty between the U.S and the student’s country of residence.”

Pelham also said there are many other opportunities for international students to receive aid.

“Ohio University offers students various resources to ensure their success, such as the Cat’s Cupboard food pantry, the meal bank donation program, the career closet, housing help and more,” Pelham wrote in an email.


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