A&M-San Antonio designates $7M in direct student support – grants, reimbursement, technology – to address impact of COVID-19

By University Communications

Tuesday, 06 09 2020

SAN ANTONIO — Texas A&M University-San Antonio has designated more than $7 million in direct support to students and to adjusting its educational delivery – offering students everything from loaner laptops and direct funds to an on-campus food pantry and remote work to help mitigate COVID-19-related hardships.

“Texas A&M University-San Antonio is dedicated to using flexibility and creativity in finding new ways to help University faculty, staff and students deal with the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining our focus on providing a top-quality educational experience,” said President Cynthia Teniente-Matson. “While much is still unknown about the lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic, what we do know is that the safety of our University community and the academic progress of our students are our most important priorities.”

Matson noted A&M-San Antonio’s students, like virtually all segments of society, are facing a variety of related challenges from food and housing insecurities, to decreasing income due to loss of jobs and furloughs, to increasing need for childcare or eldercare and, in some cases, illness. The University currently serves more than 6,700 students; the student body is 60 percent female and 72 percent Hispanic, and approximately 77 percent of students are the first in their family to attend college.

“Together, we have shaped the direction and strategies for addressing these needs, starting with asking our students about their concerns, preferences, fears and successes, and have devised our programs accordingly,” she said. “We anticipate and expect the need for adjustments as we move forward, and this collaborative environment will continue to help the University be prepared to deal with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Highlights of the support and services implemented during the pandemic:

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has provided us with $5.6 million to assist the needs of A&M-San Antonio students, including reimbursements and refunds.
  • Direct student support for emergency relief: The Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) have been designated to assist students and institutions during the COVID-19 epidemic. Through this, A&M-San Antonio developed an emergency application process to assist students with their financial needs due to COVID-19. Of the $2.8 million federal allocation specifically in direct aid to students, the University has awarded approximately 800 undergraduate and graduate students with nearly $1.2 million this spring.
  • Ongoing support in response to the changes to delivery of instruction due to the virus has been and continues to be developed as student needs are identified, and the University has allocated emergency funds to help with their technology needs. The goal is to make all efforts possible to ensure the transition to online learning is fully supported, and students are invested with the resources needed to be successful as we work through this crisis.
  • As a minority-serving institution, the University has received $400,000 to fulfill and support institutional access. A&M-San Antonio is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.
  • The University issued financial support, including housing assistance for a total of $291,000, and refunded $76,040 in parking fees and $46,000 in meal plan fee reimbursements.
  • The University provided 184 loaner laptops and 259 loaner MiFis (mobile hotspot devices) to help students facing “digital divide” challenges during the transition to online instruction. These efforts address the persistent challenge of the digital divide within south Bexar County and reflect the Institution’s commitment to adjusting the learning environment.
  • The University also provided additional financial flexibility for students, allowing students who owe up to $1,000 to the University to register despite that account balance. Traditionally, the University did not allow students with an account balance of $200 or more to register.
  • Residents of on-campus housing were offered flexible options to remain in the residence hall or to receive refunds.
  • 300 student workers kept their on-campus jobs through remote working accommodations, as campus units accommodated remote working to allow these students to stay on the payroll.
  • The Mays Center for Experiential Learning & Community Engagement virtually hosted 17 career and employment fairs to assist students seeking employment opportunities.
  • Technology platforms were used to continue to provide students with mental health and wellness resources, remote advising and student success coaching.
  • More than 1,100 courses were transitioned to an online learning environment.
  • The Jaguar Lift Emergency Relief Fund has raised more than $25,000 in private support to date for emergency grants of up to $300 per student. This campaign is ongoing.
  • The General’s Food Pantry, the only food bank facility open on a college campus in the community, has assisted 50 households facing food insecurities.

Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Established as a stand-alone university in 2009, Texas A&M University-San Antonio is a comprehensive four-year public university that reflects the culturally diverse, heritage-rich community it serves. Situated on nearly 700 acres in south San Antonio, A&M-San Antonio is a Military Embracing™ institution offering 29 undergraduate degrees and 14 graduate degrees to over 6,700 students. The University is home to the Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders and the Cyber Engineering Technology/Cyber Security Research Center. A&M-San Antonio holds the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Military Times ranks the University No. 35 in the nation for “Best for Vets: Colleges.” Visit tamusa.edu for more information. #onamission