ASU Graduate College launches COVID-19 Caregiver Assistance Fellowship for grad students

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Being a graduate student at Arizona State University is demanding enough for most, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more challenging. 

Recently, the Graduate College identified a particular group of graduate students whose unique financial needs have been affected by pandemic-related closures — graduate student caregivers. 

“In our efforts to provide relief to students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognized that many graduate students are also caregivers for other family members, including children unable to attend school, and this has increased the challenges they face in completing their degrees,” said Mark Searle, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost. 

To meet this challenge, the Graduate College introduced the Caregiver Assistance Fellowship to financially assist graduate students who are sacrificing part of their already busy schedule to care for a child, dependent adult or elderly family member. 

“Earning a graduate degree is an incredible achievement that is challenging under the best of circumstances,” said Elizabeth Wentz, vice provost and dean of the Graduate College. “ASU graduate students have demonstrated unbelievable resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many are struggling to juggle work, teaching, research and taking care of family members. It was important for us to find a way to help.”

The Caregiver Assistance Fellowship is primarily intended for graduate students who can not work or hold an assistantship during the 2020–21 academic year, due to their role as a caregiver to family members that are unable to attend school or care facilities.   

“With the Caregiver Assistance fund, we hope to ease the burden on graduate students caring for others while also trying to complete their degree and express our commitment to their success,” Searle said.

Fellowships of up to $2,500 per semester are being awarded to eligible applicants. While the funding is limited to this academic year, the Graduate College hopes to expand this funding in the future through their work with the ASU Foundation.

The Graduate College has been supporting graduate students during these difficult circumstances with other initiatives like the Pandemic Impact Award, which provided funding to graduate students whose research and culminating projects were impacted by COVID-19. Many students utilized the funding for alternative data collection activities or to purchase materials and supplies to continue their research activities during unanticipated closures.

“Graduate students play a vital role in ASU's teaching, research and innovation mission so it's important for us to provide them with the support they need to be successful, particularly now,” Searle said. 

Eligibility and application requirements for the Caregiver Assistance Fellowship can be found on the information page.  

There are also additional resources available to graduate student caregivers:

• Graduate students caring for children while holding teaching or research assistant positions can use the Busy Bee babysitting program at a discount.

• The ASU Dean of Students Office also has funding available for students in crisis. For more information contact deanofstudents@asu.edu.

Written by Emily Carman, graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.