REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. (OCT. 19, 2020) — Course Hero, an online learning platform for course-specific study resources, today announced that its partnership with Edquity and Believe in Students has enabled college students to access microgrants of up to $500. As students grapple with ongoing campus shutdowns, COVID-19 infection rates, and associated financial issues, the microgrants help address their immediate needs, such as food, housing, travel or broadband access.
“The pandemic has exacerbated systemic inequities which leave students to fend for themselves as they balance the rigors of higher education with most basic necessities,” said Andrew Grauer, co-founder and CEO of Course Hero. “The research is clear: even small, but highly targeted grants to students can dramatically alter their trajectory and likelihood of success.”
Through this unique partnership with social impact startup Edquity and nonprofit Believe in Students, Course Hero has distributed funds to 1,000 students at institutions across the country to help close resource and equity gaps and address increased demand for emergency assistance during the pandemic.
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Upon receiving the Course Hero microgrant, one aid recipient, Ariel Lineberry said, “while studying nursing, I was working part time on campus to help pay for basic costs. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, I had to move home and take on domestic responsibilities, while transitioning to the challenges of online learning. The Course Hero microgrant came at a time when I needed it most, helping cover food and daily necessities, alleviating some financial stress while I focused on my studies.”
According to a March 2020 survey of 17,000 students conducted by Course Hero, food and housing insecurity accounted for a quarter of financial needs among students affected by COVID-19. To date, the company has invested nearly $1 million in financial aid and scholarships—and through the initiative, it has already provided more than $850,000 in direct financial aid to students at colleges and universities around the United States.
“The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create the basic needs crisis facing higher education today—but it is exacerbating many of the gaps that already existed for millions of students,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, chief strategy officer at Edquity. “As students deal with the deep and far-reaching effects of the pandemic on their finances, careers, and personal lives, delivering emergency financial aid is one of the most important investments we can make in student success.”
College students have always struggled with basic needs, such as food, housing, transportation, and the cost of textbooks. Research compiled by the University Innovation Alliance found that on one campus found an estimated 4,000 seniors who have good grades dropped out because of small outstanding debts less than $1,000.
A survey of more than 38,000 students conducted by the Hope Center for Community, College and Justice, found that a third of students reported losing their job during the pandemic. Just 21% of students experiencing basic needs insecurity applied for unemployment insurance, 15% applied for federal nutrition benefits, and 15% applied for emergency aid.
Course Hero’s online emergency aid program builds on an ambitious emergency aid initiative launched in April, which distributed funds to students through university financial aid offices, in partnership with a network of institutions and national nonprofits including Believe in Students, Achieving the Dream, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Excelencia in Education, the United Negro College Fund, and the Univesity Innovation Alliance.
About Course Hero: Course Hero is on a mission to help students make every study hour count, and graduate confident and prepared. The online learning platform offers over 40 million course-specific study resources created by and for students and educators, as well as 24/7 tutor help. The range of learning materials include practice problems, study guides, textbook solutions, videos, class notes, and step-by-step explanations for every subject. More than 50,000 faculty across the U.S. and Canada use Course Hero to share their resources with the community, collaborate with other faculty, and hone new strategies for instruction.
About Edquity: Edquity provides the first-ever student-centered technology platform designed to administer emergency aid to college students, using an evidence-based approach to get students to access cash assistance in 48 hours. The technology allows students to quickly complete an application either on a mobile device or on the web and has been documented to improve retention rates for the highest risk student populations, even in the wake of natural disasters and crises.
About Believe in Students: Believe in Students is the nation’s only non-profit organization focused exclusively on supporting college students’ living expenses. They develop and support innovative, sustainable, and effective solutions that can scale to meet the widespread demands. Their current portfolio includes a range of evidence-based programs, including its inaugural program, FAST Fund; a Student Emergency Aid Fund in partnership with Edquity; and the Gather Food Hall in partnership with Little Giant Creative. BIS also supports the national #RealCollege movement created by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.