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College students were hit hard by COVID-19. Here’s how we’re supporting them.

By Blue Cross NC | September 24, 2020 | 6 min read | Community Health, Investments

College students in masks socialize

Blue Cross NC Joins Community in Supporting NC College Students Impacted by COVID-19

In March, more than 14 million college students felt the impact of COVID-19. Thousands of campuses shut down, leaving students unsure about what the future would hold. These widespread campus closures continue to affect many students financially. The situation continues to raise concerns for those who can no longer access campus resources.

The impact of education

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina recognizes the lifetime impact that education can have on North Carolinians’ health. That’s why we have invested in organizations to support college students.

Before the pandemic hit, Blue Cross NC committed funds over the next three years to the Independent College Fund of North Carolina (ICFNC). The funds go toward scholarships supporting students who are first-generation, low-income and people of color. There have already been 25 recipients of this fund across ICFNC’s institutions.

“These BCBSNC scholarships are vitally important, especially in this time of COVID-19,” said ICFNC director Colleen Kinser. “Our colleges and universities graduate a significant number of the state’s medical personnel, including physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and pharmacists, and the additional financial assistance provides the students with much needed support.”

One scholarship recipient, Eboni Mayle, said the funds will help her become a medical professional.

“This scholarship means a lot to me being a science major and wanting to pursue a career in the health care field, which is very critical to our world,” she said.

Responding to COVID-19

Through scholarships like these, Blue Cross NC has empowered students to make positive impacts in their communities. But our support has shifted in recent months alongside student needs during COVID-19.

To help ease the financial burdens of the pandemic for students, the UNC School System’s Association of Student Governments (ASG) re-allocated budget set aside for semester travel and events to support the Student Emergency Fund. In total, the ASG distributed $65,000 across 17 schools. Each school received at least $2,000 for students in need.

In continuing our commitment to the health and well-being of all North Carolinians, Blue Cross NC joined other public and private stakeholders across the state to support UNC School System students most impacted by the pandemic. Blue Cross NC contributed an additional $160,000 toward the Student Emergency Fund. It includes support for travel, housing and technology expenses and other financial circumstances brought on by COVID-19.

What started as ASG’s plan to help their peers became a community-wide effort to improve students’ well-being across the state.

Adam Schmidt, who served as president of the ASG when COVID-19 hit the System’s universities, said that for many students, the pandemic was an unexpected financial nightmare.

“Early on when campuses really started to shut down but hadn’t yet processed refunds, there was this time period where students had paid for housing and dining but weren’t getting those services,” said Schmidt. “They needed some emergency funding to make sure they still had a place to live and food to eat.”

The donations from the ASG, Blue Cross NC and many other community partners help students navigate these difficult circumstances.

As students in the UNC School System continue to pursue their higher education despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, the Student Emergency Fund is a resource for those who seek additional support.

Learn more about the Student Emergency Fund and Blue Cross NC’s commitment to local communities and during this challenging time.