Financial help is available students this winter

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COVID-19 has cost Americans their lives and put a financial strain on the country in ways that are unprecedented since the Great Depression. With winter in full swing in Alaska, it may seem even bleaker, but there are resources available to help.

Job loss, reduction of hours, or inability to attend work due to COVID-19 has been a burden for many in the U.S. There has been no clear indication that the pandemic will end, but there is hope since vaccines are now being manufactured, with the United Kingdom first in line to release it to the public. If people cannot work, then basic needs like rent, food and utilities are at risk. UAA students have access to Cares Act funding through UAA, which will be made accessible on Jan. 11, 2021, at noon. Contact the financial aid office for more information or visit the information page at UAA online.

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Remote jobs may ease the financial burden a little. There are many online jobs posted on WayUp, especially for students, such as positions in writing, editing, customer service, media and business. LinkedIn has a job search filter that shows remote jobs. If you are proficient with computers, Remote.com has lucrative IT jobs, as well as many other remote jobs. Creative people can find unique employment through FlexJobs and Virtual Vocations. If employment is not an option, there is always unemployment insurance assistance.

There are two kinds of unemployment assistance available, standard unemployment assistance and pandemic unemployment assistance. Applicants for the former need to have worked a certain amount of hours before applying for assistance on the State of Alaska Unemployment Benefits webpage. If they do not qualify for standard assistance, then pandemic assistance may be available. Cases are evaluated on an individual basis. When applying for assistance, make sure that a driver’s license or state I.D. is available, you are an Alaskan resident and information about previous workplaces is on hand. The Municipality of Anchorage is also using some of the Cares Act funding to provide one-time use vouchers ranging from $200-$400 per individual or family to use at the grocery store of their choice. Applicants can sign up for these vouchers which will be distributed using a lottery on the Municipality of Anchorage website.

Those in need can also access food and health insurance assistance through the Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Assistance. For this website, make sure that identification and income insurance is available and accurate. The Food Bank of Alaska has several disbursements of free food at different locations. They also have a mobile food pantry and if you are not in need and instead want to help, they have opportunities to donate and volunteer.

Food Pantries also offer different avenues for food help like congregate meal locations, food boxes and local organizations that can help. UAA also has an emergency food cache for students with free food bags full of already prepared or easy to prepare packaged foods. Students can call (907) 786-4040 to set up a pick up from the UAA Student Health and Counseling Center.

Mental health is a key issue because of the isolation not only from the pandemic, but winter in Alaska. For students who need physical or mental help, the Student Health and Counseling Center, or SHCC, is still open, but students must call to make an appointment and walk-ins are not accepted. SHCC offers help with compassionate counselors and other resources for students and staff that may be experiencing a tough time. UAA Psychological Services includes clinicians who are graduate, master and doctoral students supervised by licensed psychologists. To get a confidential counseling call (907) 786-1795.

The Center for Advocacy, Relationships, and Sexual Violence can help those who are victims of violence, assault, abuse or harassment. Students can also call the 24-hour hotline number at (907) 276-7273. SHCC’s Mental Health page on UA Online also has other resources outside of the campus like suicide prevention and LGBTQ+ support.