UC Davis students bike past a blue emergency pole located near the bike circle adjacent to Hart Hall.

New Grant Program Helps Numerous Graduate Students in Crisis

Emergency grant program helps graduate students with medical or family emergencies

Quick Summary

  • Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program launched 2022-23
  • Provides support for graduate students experiencing unexpected financial challenges
  • Helps students with medical, dental, health emergencies, or expenses associated with family emergencies

Flying back to one’s home country to attend a parent’s funeral, dental emergencies, paying for unexpected prescription medication—these are examples of real issues graduate students experienced this academic year that Graduate Studies was able to help address because of The Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program.

Emergency Grant Program starts in 2022-23

The Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program, which was launched during the 2022-23 academic year, provides support for graduate students experiencing unexpected financial challenges that impede their progress toward their degrees.

It is intended to help students with such things as medical, dental, or other health emergencies, or expenses associated with family emergencies such as death in the immediate family.  The grant is also designed to help address gaps in emergency funding that are not addressed by such programs as the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, which can help address emergency and long-term food and housing needs; the SHCS Health Equity Fund, which helps address out-of-pocket medical costs; and the campus' student pantries.

The Emergency Grant Program has been critical in helping graduate students resolve issues that, in the past, might have forced them to pause or drop out of their degree program, said Nicole Rabaud, executive director for student and postdoctoral support in Graduate Studies.

“In addition to directly addressing critical financial issues for individual students, the Emergency Grant has provided Graduate Studies staff with a window into the areas in which graduate students are facing financial crises, and helps staff know where to direct additional advocacy on behalf of students,” Rabaud said. “Many graduate students are already heavily loan-burdened from their undergraduate studies, and are understandably reluctant to take on more loans, so this grant can be a good alternative option.”

Rabaud added that the emergency grant has been especially useful for international and undocumented students who often don’t have as many options available to them because of their immigration status.

A community of support

The grants are not intended to help students with long-term money management issues, or payroll delays, according to Rabaud. Rather, they are to help students mitigate the financial burden associated with unplanned, challenging events. Rabaud added that even if students don’t qualify for the emergency grant, Graduate Studies can connect students to other services on campus that can help.

For example, the Office of Financial Aid offers zero-interest short-term loans and the UC Davis Emergency/Short-term Housing program is available to students who are in danger of becoming unhoused. In addition, staff in Graduate Studies can help students navigate conversations with units on campus and their own programs to address their critical needs.

“Our intent with the Emergency Fund is to complement the resources already available to students, and address gaps not met by them,” she said. “Students are tremendously careful with their money, and yet are very vulnerable to personal and family emergencies. In the face of emergency expenses, they are borrowing from friends and using consumer credit and installment plans to cover travel expenses and dental bills in a pinch, but these can accumulate into dire situations.”

Filling a need

Graduate Studies created and fundraised for the emergency grant because they observed a need to create a fund specifically to help graduate students experiencing crises. In the first three months of its existence, the Emergency Grant program received 28 requests and awarded 8 emergency grants, totaling more than $11,000.  Most of the denials were for requests relating to fall pay delays , which were resolved in other ways and requests for funds to pay down debt. Four months after the program launched, all emergency grant funds were exhausted by graduate students in need.

A top priority

For that reason, Graduate Studies is currently making The Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program a top fundraising priority for the remainder of the 2022-23 academic year and beyond. The goal is to raise $50,000 from philanthropic donations so Graduate Studies can issue more grants soon.

“We want to do what we can to help Graduate students who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a financial predicament,” said Erum Abbasi Syed, executive assistant dean of UC Davis Graduate Studies.  “We hope our alumni, donors and friends will join our efforts to support the graduate student community.”

To learn more about how you can support the Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program, contact Executive Director of Development Janet Berry at jsberry@ucdavis.edu.