My Simmons

SOS Emergency Fund

What is the SOS Fund?

The SOS (Supporting Our Students) Fund is a collection of donations from staff, faculty, students, alumnx, student organizations, Board of Trustees members, and community friends to assist current students facing urgent and immediate expenses. This fund originated in March 2020 to alleviate some of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 1, 2022, the fund now provides urgent and temporary financial relief that extends beyond the challenges students continue to face due to the pandemic. To assure the long-term sustainability of this limited fund, please review our renewed guidelines as of July 1, 2022

  • The fund is available to provide financial assistance per academic year to enrolled undergraduate, graduate, and online students who face challenges in meeting expenses that are:
    •  Immediate basic needs related to health and safety 
    •  Temporary hardships related to an emergency, or other unforeseen circumstances. 
  • To be eligible for funding, students must be currently enrolled in classes. 
    • In most cases, students are eligible for funding during the summer months only if they are enrolled in summer classes during the time that the application is received. 
  • The types of needs typically supported include:
    • Housing (support with rent/mortgage, utilities, emergency housing)
      • Please review guidelines specific to rent/mortgage support
    • Groceries 
    • Basic essentials (hygiene products and seasonal clothing needs)
    • School Supplies (materials needed to successfully complete school work)
    • Medical and Mental Health 
    • Transportation
    • Childcare

What is taken into consideration when determining student needs and fund allocation?

Each student submits a description of their current situation, needs, and requested funding as it relates to these needs. The SOS Fund committee that reviews this information is also taking into account the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and previous financial aid history of each student. If your overall financial need has changed, please reach out to Student Financial Services to inform them at [email protected]

What needs cannot be met by the SOS Fund?

  • Non-urgent expenses or needs that extend beyond the month your application is received 
  • Simmons University tuition or on-campus housing costs
  • Needs of family members who are not dependents 
  • Moving fees/shipping/storage of items
  • Pet care and fees
  • Licensure exams and other academics program application fees 
  • Grocery expenses for residential students 
  • Outstanding debt, including credit card debt
  • Legal fees and court costs (case by case basis)

*Any requests for more than $500 may require additional time and consideration. A student who is on a Leave of Absence or is unenrolled at the time of submitting their application is not eligible to receive funding. 

Please note that any  Simmons bills or costs resulting from a Simmons-issued bill are not covered by the SOS Fund. 

How will the Community Resource Room impact eligibility for basic need funding for on-the-ground students? 

As of September 2022, The Community Resource Room is a new resource for on-the-ground students. The CRR will model a food pantry where all students will have access to no-cost shelf-stable food items, hygiene products, and school supplies. When the CRR is stocked with supplies, on-campus students will be eligible to pick up these items on campus and will be encouraged to utilize the CRR first before applying to the SOS Fund. Our hope is to increase and optimize our student body’s access to food by directing students to this resource first. 

How will the Student Assistance Program impact eligibility for basic need funding for on-the-ground students? 

There are two separate  Student Assistance Programs (SAP) available to undergraduate, graduate, and online students. Both SAPs provide free and confidential mental health care. We encourage students to utilize this resource before planning to pay mental health costs out of pocket. If you are requesting funding for anticipated mental health care, our team will confirm that you are first knowledgeable of this option. 

How much rent support can the SOS Fund provide?

Please make note of the following limits on how much rent support the SOS Fund can provide:

  • Amount of support – we can provide limited support with rent and often are unable to cover an entire month’s rent.
  • Recurrent support – we are unable to support students’ rent long-term. As such, we encourage students who request rent support multiple times to meet with a Support Specialist at the REEF Support Center. 

Will I need to pay back the funds that I receive?

No, this funding does not have to be paid back to the institution.

How much money should I expect?

As much as we would like to meet the needs of every student each time they need support, the SOS funding is limited. The average grant is between $300-$500 per student. The amount allocated for a student is based on the urgent needs disclosed by the student within the academic year they apply. 

What if I need more aid later? Is there a limit to how much funding I can receive?

Students can re-apply for funding if their needs continue, but please keep in mind that the SOS Fund is limited. Students are eligible for a specific amount each year based on their financial information. 

  • At this time, maximum amounts of allocations will be re-set each year on July 1. This means that if you reached the maximum amount of funding in a previous year, you would be eligible to re-apply for future years.

If you have reached the maximum amount of funding that you can receive from the SOS Fund for the current year and you submit an application, you will receive an email confirming this from our team.  We encourage you to meet with the Support Specialists from the REEF Support Center to explore more sustainable and reliable resources such as SNAP (food stamps), rent and utility assistance, transportation discounts, and more.

How long will it take to receive funds?

Our team tried to expedite the process as much as possible. The process will take one to three weeks, depending on

  • Whether we require additional information from you
  • Whether you request a large amount of funding, especially an amount in excess of $500
  • Whether you are set up for direct deposit by the time your funds are ready. Instructions for setting up direct deposit can be found at the Student Financial Services website under ‘Direct Deposit Student FAQ’ and will be included in the email confirmation you receive from the SOS Fund. 

What do I need to do to prepare in order to receive the funds? And what is the process of receiving funds?

Step 1: Please ensure your direct deposit is set up and up to date.*

For instructions on signing up for direct deposit, please visit the Student Financial Services website and refer to the section entitled ‘Direct Deposit Student FAQ.’

*If you already receive direct deposit for your financial aid refund, there is no additional action needed.

*Please note that being set up in Workday is not the same as direct deposit for financial aid.

Step 2: Email of Awarded Amount

Once you receive an email from the SOS committee on your awarded amount, you should see the amount reflected in your Simmons account that week. You will then see that amount drop from your account. This means that the funding was sent to your bank. It will take an additional 3-5 business days for your bank to post the amount in your account. Please be patient and do not assume that the amount was taken away from you.

What if I have a balance on my account? Will the funding go toward my balance?

No, we have worked with billing to have your SOS funding sent to you directly. If you choose to use that funding for your balance, that will be your choice. We believe the SOS funding should be used for what you believe is your most urgent need.

Why have I been asked to provide additional information after submitting my request?

If your request asked for more than the average amount, mentioned non-urgent needs, or did not have enough detail, you will receive outreach from our team. This is so we can gather further information and best connect you to the appropriate resources. 

If you asked for an amount over $300, we suggest considering what your most urgent expense is and communicating that with the SOS team. 

What if my needs change and I no longer need funding?

Please let us know if you no longer need funding, as this will help us provide the funding to another student in need. We understand that needs change often, and you still have the option to request aid later if needed.

What else should I know?

Please remember that many students are deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, current inflation rate increase, and national housing crisis. The fund is limited. We can only work on the most urgent needs of our community.

We also encourage you to meet with our Support Specialists at the REEF Support Center to determine if applying to the SOS Fund is right for you, as well as other Simmons and local resources. We encourage you to visit the REEF Support Center webpage. 

Please be patient and know that we are doing the best we can to address every student’s request. Additional questions can be sent to [email protected].