In May, the Department of Development established the Student Emergency Relief Fund (SERF) in response to the University’s promise to students and their families that additional financial need, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, would be met in full. University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., shared, “We are committed to all Notre Dame students and their families. We want to assure them that no students will fail to graduate due to financial distress. No matter how difficult things get financially, we seek to leave no student behind.”
The projected financial commitment required to fulfill this promise is dramatic. The University anticipates spending $25 to $30 million more in financial aid for the 2020-21 academic year than during 2019-20. Forecasts predict current students receiving financial aid will need additional assistance, and as many as 500 students who had not previously received financial aid will need it. In addition, the incoming class of first-year students, with parents who are now unemployed and/or furloughed, will need support.
The outpouring of support for SERF has been overwhelming. To date, 6,200+ donors have contributed a total of more than $8.4 million to the fund. Donors include over 200 University employees who have made gifts as well as the executive officers, deans, vice presidents, and leaders in the Athletic Department who have agreed to take salary reductions and/or have made contributions to SERF.
Mary Nucciarone, Director of Financial Aid, reports, “In working with our newly admitted and continuing students, we are seeing the effects of the COVID pandemic on our Notre Dame families. Loss of income and employment started in late December 2019 and we continue to see these trends. These challenges impact all levels of socio-economic status -- in particular, business owners, health care providers, and those working in service industries. We continue to work with each family on an individual basis and are grateful for the scholarship resources we are able to provide to the students.”
This collaborative support is a testament to the strength of the Notre Dame community, reflecting the enduring dedication of alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff. Regarding this generosity, Lou Nanni, vice president for University Relations shared, “The Notre Dame spirit, buoyed by faith and community, often shines brightest in challenging times. The outpouring of support for the Student Emergency Relief Fund is a perfect example.”