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SHACS to offer funds for students in need


Michael Cummings, Community Editor

Following a recent “State of SHACS” presentation, some students had more questions than answers. In particular, two issues were of concern: the status of student transportation to Des Moines and Iowa City for medical expenses and the existence of an emergency reserve fund for use by students who have trouble paying for medical assistance.

Following the event, SHACS sent out a survey to the student body regarding the need for medical transportation outside of Grinnell.

“The transportation survey was created to gauge how many students are in need of, or would be interested in, transportation to out of town appointments for both medical or mental health needs,” wrote Deb Shill, Director of SHACS, in an email to the S&B. “We wanted to assess needs in order to inform our decision-making process about offering this kind of service. The survey just closed on April 8 and the results showed that there was very little interest in this type of service (less than 10 respondents). Therefore, we are planning to

focus our attention on other areas at this time.”

Shill wrote that SHACS will continue to increase services available to students on campus.

“SHACS continues to focus on building up our services and focusing our attention to several areas which include: direct service to our student body to help support their ongoing health and mental health needs, future on-campus telepsychiatry services we are currently researching companies that could provide this service in the hopes of having this available by the fall term, ongoing collaboration with the University of Iowa related to our onsite doctoral program which we hope to enhance with more providers this fall thus increasing our number of direct service hours to students, ongoing support and collaboration with our local community providers for off campus care needs and interviewing candidates for our on-campus full time open counselor position.” Shill wrote.

The emergency reserve fund, Shill indicated, is largely created through donations from alumni.

“The College has received several generous donations restricted for mental health services,” she wrote. “These donors requested that the funds be utilized over a period of time (not used up all in one year). We use these donor funds as needs arise from within the student body, and the criteria for use is to provide care to students who have limited resources, are in a crisis and/or have needs beyond that which we can normally meet.”

This money does not come from an annual fund, so there’s no way to know how much there will be each year. However, Shill provided some estimates.

“[E]ach year we have approximately 7,000 dollars to assist students who need help with mental health expenses. We also have approximately 2,000 dollars to help students who need assistance with other health expenses,” she wrote. “Because this money is donated, it isn’t replenishable, nor are we guaranteed to receive additional funds from these donors. Since we know the money is limited, we try to stretch it so we can assist as many students as possible.”

Regarding who can use the fund, Shill explained that it could be accessed by any student who can demonstrate need.

“Many students with financial need have benefited from this emergency fund for varying reasons. Some of the common situations in which support from this fund has been provided to students include cases where: a student’s [outside] health insurance plan does not provide mental health coverage, a student cannot afford to buy prescribed medications, often because prescription medications can be very expensive, or a student does not have enough money to pay co-pays or deductibles,” she wrote.

Shill noted that this fund is unnecessary for students who have enrolled in the College’s health insurance.

“Students who enroll in the Grinnell College health insurance plan have good mental health coverage,” she wrote. “Students in need of mental health care but who lack health insurance with good coverage for mental health services may want to consider enrolling in the College Insurance plan in the upcoming year.”

SHACS Update Graphic

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