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Graduate Psychology Student Emergency Funding

What is the Mutual Aid Fund?


Although the psychology department has excellent opportunities for merit-based aid, this fund provides emergency need-based aid to psychology graduate students at the University of Utah who are experiencing acute financial hardship. Graduate school is stressful enough, and this resource was created to make sure the psychology graduate community can support their students! Unexpected emergency expenses caused by difficult life events adds stress, so the purpose of the Mutual Aid Fund is to provide a straightforward and prompt method by which current University of Utah psychology graduate students can receive confidential financial aid. For limits of confidentiality see the FAQ section. 

Who is eligible to request funds?


Currently enrolledUniversity of Utah psychology graduate students,including those on clinical internship or leave of absence, “in need” due to an emergency. For the purpose of the fund, “in need” means that you are actively needing financial aid as a result of unexpected emergency expenses. The mutual aid committee trusts that students who apply require aid and will therefore not require any documentation regarding individual circumstances. 

 

What qualifies as emergency expenses?


There are a wide variety of situations that could constitute emergency expenses. The following is a non-exhaustive example list: medical and mental healthcare expenses not covered by insurance (including dental/eyecare bills), funeral and family death related expenses, rent assistance, other bill assistance (i.e car mechanic bill), and childcare related expenses. As noted previously,the mutual aid committee trusts that students requesting aid are undergoing one of these or other emergencies and will not make decisions based on category of need/s. In other words, requested aid within the award cap for any emergency expense will be funded. 

 

How much funding can I receive?


Currently, each University of Utah psychology graduate student “in need” is eligible to receive $600 within a 12-month calendar year. Requests for funding will be on a rolling basis and students can make multiple requests for aid that total up to $600 within the year (e.g., June 2022- June 2023). Although the Mutual Aid Fund committee believes that providing some need-based aid is better than no aid, we also understand that the current aid limit is insufficient to provide substantial relief in an emergency. Therefore, we are making concerted efforts to be able to raise this award cap in following years.

 

How do I apply for funding?


To apply for funding fill out the following short request form.

In this form, you will be asked to provide your University of Utah ID number to verify that you are a current psychology graduate student. You also will be asked about your area of psychology and category of need/s. These questions are only for the purpose of informing future Mutual Aid Fund decisions, including adding an additional category, and occasionally presenting data to advocate for the psychology graduate student body. Note that these questions have a “prefer not to answer” option. Lastly, you will be asked to indicate the aid amount you are requesting. 

 

How do I receive the funding?


After you submit the form, you can expect to hear back within 1-3 working days. This will allow for the committee and Dennis Laros to process your request for support. Thenyou can assume that the requested aid will appear on your paycheck within the next 1-3 weeks. The committee will not contact you to confirm or verify your request/s. Rather, we will directly contact you via email if there are any eligibility issues or any other processing issues.

If 3 weeks have passed and you are concerned about the requested aid, please contact the committee through email (mutualaidfund@psych.utah.edu) to check on the status of your request. Note that the financial cycle of the Mutual Aid Fund follows the regular pay period cycle. Therefore, for fastest fund disbursements, requests must be made at least 1 week (preferably much earlier) before payday to show up on the next paycheck.

For example, if payday is on July 22nd, and you submit your request by July 8th, it is highly likely that your award will show up on your July 22nd paycheck. However, if you submit it on July 15th, the last day of the pay period, it is likely that the aid will not be reflected on your July 22nd paycheck. It will, however, appear on your first August paycheck. 

How can I invest in the wellbeing of the University of Utah psychology graduate student body by contributing to the Mutual Aid Fund?


Psychologycommunity contribution is crucial to the vitality of the fund. Therefore, we encourage psychology faculty, past, and current psychology graduate students to contribute. There are two options for contributing donations. Please see this video for a walkthrough of both options.

Note: Donations can be made confidentially such that only Dennis Laros and Dr. Jonathan Butner are aware that you donated. 

  1. Personal Donation: We are excited to invite YOU to help support Psychology Graduate students via this fund!You can make either a one-time or recurring donation to the fund using the following link: uMarket
    1. We strongly encourage recurring donations to aid in the vitality of the fund. The suggested amounts are $5 per paycheck for psychology graduate students and $10 per paycheck for psychology faculty. Please be sure to mark in special instructions that it is for the Mutual Aid Emergency Fund and also send an email to Dennis Laros (dennis.laros@psych.utah.edu) letting him know that you made a donation and whether you would like for it to be confidential, so he can ensure it is transferred to the fund.
  2. Recycling Development/other professional funds: If you have development or other professional funds that would otherwise expire, they may be eligible to be deposited into the Mutual Aid Emergency Fund. Please email Dennis Laros (dennis.laros@psych.utah.edu) to let him know if you wish to do this. 


FAQ section


We aim to maximize confidentiality of requests. We understand that asking for help can be challenging for some folks, and we respect your privacy. Your request will be confidential, although the request-process is not fully anonymous. In order to ensure that you receive emergency aid in a timely fashion, there are certain individuals within the department who will have access to your request/s. These individuals include the Mutual Aid Fund committee members (currently: Clara Louise Lopes, Lucybel Mendez, Logan Call), Dennis Laros, and the department chair Dr. Jonathan Butner. The reasons for their knowledge of your request are as follows: the committee is responsible for verifying that you are a current University of Utah psychology graduate student through your uID, Dennis Laros is responsible for dispersing the emergency funds into your paycheck and needs to know your uID to be able to do that, and as department chair, Dr. Jonathan Butner has access to all department accounts and has to sign off on the cash flow from the fund. None of the individuals listed will share your identity with anyone else in the department or discuss any request/s among themselves or with others for any purpose. 

Rejections will only occur if a student does not meet eligibility as defined by being a currently enrolled psychology graduate student at the University of Utah, or if the psychology graduate student has already received the maximum of $600 per calendar year. 

Yes, the aid will be taxed. If the awarded amount is substantial enough, it may even push part of the award into a higher tax bracket, as the University of Utah only looks at the current paycheck for those calculations. However, you can work out payments with Dennis Laros to help alleviate this issue. Also note that in fall and spring, psychology graduate students are FICA exempt, but few are in summer, so summer awards are likely to see higher tax withholdings.

The committee believes that being in an emergency situation is stressful enough and validates psychology graduate students’ need for prompt financial aid. The committee hopes the Mutual Aid Fund can be a useful and easy tool to relieve your distress. 

Although the committee’s choice to cap the current aid at $600 per calendar year was data-driven, we recognize that $600 within one year will most likely not be sufficient in many circumstances. Therefore, we have compiled a list of websites that present additional sources of emergency aid and resources: 

The Mutual Aid Fund committee is to be made up of three elected psychology graduate student volunteers. One from the CNS area, one from the Clinical area, and one from the Social/Developmental areas. The roles of the committee members include verifying that requests are from current University of Utah psychology graduate students, keeping track of fund availability, setting the aid limit per calendar year, requesting basic information to make data-informed decisions regarding category of need/s, presenting this data to current psychology faculty and graduate students for advocacy efforts, such as to increase donations, and being involved in fundraising activities. 

 Yes, in addition to providing information about the Mutual Aid Funds via presentations and emails to encourage donations, the committee will hold a fundraising activity per semester. If you are interested in becoming involved in helping us to fund-raise, please feel free to email the committee (mutualaidfund@psych.utah.edu

The Mutual Aid Fund committee members are committed to serving the University of Utah psychology graduate student body and welcomes any feedback regarding the fund, the request process, or any other questions or concerns related to the fund. This fund is for you and we believe you should have your voice represented! Please email (mutualaidfund@psych.utah.edu) to provide feedback.

If you would like to provide anonymous feedback please use this form

 

Thank You Note

The committee wants to thank Sara LoTemplio for founding the Mutual Aid Fund and all the University of Utah psychology faculty and graduate students who have donated and continue to provide donations to maintain this fund. We also want to thank the University of Utah psychology graduate students for continuing to be strong during these hard times, especially those who find themselves “in need.” Your strength is admirable, and this fund was created to reinforce it! Finally, we want to thank Dr. Jonathan Butner, Dennis Laros, and the first committee members (Logan Call, Holly Gagnon, Nicolette Molina) for putting together the information and process for the Mutual Aid Fund.

Last Updated: 6/16/22