In a campus-wide email on Thursday, Northern Kentucky University announced $3 million in Equity Initiatives by using federal coronavirus relief funds to prioritize students impacted the most by the pandemic.
The first initiative eliminates $600,000 in student debt accumulated during the pandemic by bringing outstanding account balances to zero for degree-seeking students, covering balances from the Spring 2020 semester to the Spring 2021 semester.
“The health crisis and ensuing recession affected so many of our students and their families,” NKU President Ashish Vaidya said in a press release from NKU. “Wiping out their account balance allows our students to continue their educational journey with a fresh start without worrying about what they owe the university.”
Additionally, the university is providing all undergraduate students seeking a degree with a $250 voucher to the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, offering help to students to pay for textbooks, technology and educational supplies. According to the press release, online learners are also going to receive the $250 voucher.
“Nearly 50% of our students are the first in their families to attend college,” new NKU Provost Matt Cecil said in the press release. “Many students face difficult choices during their path to a college degree, like choosing between buying food and essentials or course materials. The $250 voucher can make the difference between them staying in school or stopping out.”
Students can use these funds by selecting the “$250 Stipend” method of payment on the checkout page on the NKU Barnes & Noble Bookstore website, or in-store on NKU’s campus by providing their Student ID number upon checkout. In a campus-wide email, the university stated that there will be no cash refunds for unspent funds or books and supplies returned after purchase.
In addition to the financial help that the Equity Initiatives will offer students for the 2021 Fall semester, the university is dedicating more than $250,000 to directly support student health and well-being.
The funds will build on NKU’s Presidential Initiative for Student Mental Health, originally established by President Vaidya last fall. As part of the new initiative, NKU will be providing funding to train faculty, staff and students in forming peer support groups on campus.
“The number of students in need of help continues to expand. This is an important commitment in connecting students with the support and resources they need while attaining their educational goals,” Vice President for Student Affairs Eddie Howard said in the press release.
For more information about these mental health initiatives, as well as more information about the Mental Health Advisory Group, students can visit the link here. Additional mental health resources on campus and in the community can be found here.
These initiatives aim to advance NKU’s Success by Design strategic framework, which focuses on three key elements of student success: access, completion, career and community engagement.