U of T creates COVID-19 Emergency Student Bursary Fund

Apr 16, 2020

The new fund will help students suddenly affected by the evolving global crisis.

Photo by Stephen Dagg
Photo by Stephen Dagg

As the global fight against COVID-19 rages on, the University of Toronto community has rallied to address the pandemic by exploring new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, scaling up the production of critical materials and equipment, modelling the spread of the virus, and offering life-saving care in our partner health-care institutions.

But as the economic impact of the crisis widens, our community is also moving swiftly to address the needs of its most vulnerable students. Responding to a surge in demand for emergency financial support, U of T has set up the COVID-19 Emergency Student Bursary Fund.

“U of T stands out among leading global universities for its twin commitments to excellence and accessibility,” says President Meric Gertler. “The coronavirus pandemic gives us added reason to ensure that all qualified students will be able to pursue a U of T education, regardless of their financial circumstances.

“The COVID-19 Emergency Student Bursary Fund will provide financial assistance to students experiencing urgent need at this time. The response so far from members of the University community has been remarkable, but we know that more will be needed in the weeks and months to come.”

More than $1.2 million has already been distributed to students in need

Leaders, faculty and staff at every faculty, college, school, department and campus have stepped up to ensure students get the help they need—whether that be the logistics of adjusting to online studies, support for health and well-being, or assistance in managing the urgent financial pressures many face. In the past few weeks, U of T has already distributed more than $1,200,000 in emergency funds, averaging more than $1,000 per recipient. But the need for support among students has reached an unprecedented level and will soon exceed the University’s resources.

“Many of our students rely on part-time jobs,” says Professor Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost Students. “But many of these jobs have disappeared because of the COVID-19 crisis. Some students are facing difficulty covering the costs of their rent or paying for food, and we expect the difficulty among students to continue. ”

Beyond essentials like rent, electricity and food, some students now face new expenses, such as fees for internet access to complete classes, all of which have moved online.

A desperate time for many students

“At this time of year, our students would typically be on campus completing their courses, while graduating students would be looking forward to welcoming their families here to help celebrate,” says Professor Cheryl Regehr, Vice President and Provost. “This fund is helping with unexpected expenses such as emergency travel for students whose families are outside the GTA and extra costs they are facing as they complete their term. This is an unprecedented and desperate time for many students.”

The COVID-19 Emergency Student Bursary Fund will provide immediate support for students’ most basic and critical necessities.

“We are seeing a tremendous response both in the front lines among our faculty and alumni—and behind the scenes as donors step forward to catalyze research, and support the brilliant researchers of tomorrow,” says David Palmer, Vice-President, Advancement. “We hope that all our alumni and families around the world are keeping well during these trying circumstances. And we thank anyone who can help U of T students in this extremely difficult time.”

If you are a student experiencing immediate financial hardship, you can apply for an emergency loan or emergency grant. Help is available for undergraduate students and for graduate students. Please also check your department, faculty, college or campus websites for possible additional resources.