Helios Education Foundation and College Success Arizona Launch Arizona Postsecondary Student Resiliency Fund

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In an effort to provide some stability to postsecondary students who have been affected by COVID-19, Helios Education Foundation and College Success Arizona  recently launched the Arizona Postsecondary Student Resiliency Fund. The goal of the fund is to support students to persist and succeed in completing their postsecondary degree, despite the challenges and uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic.

“Helios and College Success Arizona are partnering, with a sense of urgency, to identify ways to support college students who are at risk of dropping out or delaying their postsecondary education due to the effects of COVID-19,”  said Vince Roig, Founding Chairman, Helios Education Foundation and Chair of the Board for College Success Arizona. 

It has been widely reported that many students are considering going part-time, or taking a gap year, so they can work and help families who have lost jobs and are facing economic challenges. These realities are especially challenging for low-income and first-generation students who are traditionally more at risk of not completing their degree.

For example, consider Sonia, a student at the University of Arizona.  She is employed in an on-campus dining hall.  With the demand for on campus dining significantly reduced, her hours have been drastically cut and she is not making enough money to pay her bills.  With other employment options limited, she is planning to leave Arizona and move to Mexico to live with her parents until she determines whether she will be able to come back to finish up her degree.

There are countless stories like this and the reality is that Arizona cannot afford to lose these promising students.  It is critical now, more than ever, to ensure that we help students continue on their path toward postsecondary success.  Not only will it help secure a bright future for them, but it will help ensure Arizona’s economic stability in the future.  It is an economic imperative that there are equitable opportunities for educational success available to all students, regardless of background or zip code. Arizona’s future economy depends on increasing the number of students who pursue and complete a postsecondary degree. 

“COVID-19 heightens the equity issues low-income college students in Arizona face. Many students who were already at the brink of not being able to afford their next semester have lost their incomes and other means of paying for school,” said Rich Nickel, president and CEO, College Success Arizona. “Organizations must come together now to provide aid to these students at this critical time.”

The Arizona Postsecondary Student Resiliency Fund will provide resources to help first generation, low-income, and underserved students complete this current semester and enroll for the 2020/2021 academic year. These supports will include things like administering emergency student aid, implementing Virtual Advising to help students stay on track, providing wraparound services such as mentoring and check-ins, and hosting trainings to help students navigate the current crisis and new learning norms.

While there is no precise exemption list of services that might be covered, the intent is to not duplicate relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which provides almost $14 Billion that will go directly to higher education institutions to support the costs of shifting classes online, and for grants to students for food, housing, technology, health care, childcare and other purposes. 

The Arizona Postsecondary Student Resiliency Fund has already been instituted and resources will be distributed immediately. The Fund, expected to help up to 1,500 students, will be administered by College Success Arizona and is available for students working with existing partner organizations focused on postsecondary student success across Arizona. For more information about partner programs and eligibility requirements, please visit www.collegesuccessarizona.org.

“It is our hope that this partnership will provide some security and stability to help first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students persist in their educational journey and graduate on time,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation.