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Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Funds

The Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Fund is intended to help meet the financial needs of Rackham graduate students who encounter an emergency situation or one-time, unusual, or unforeseen expenses during their degree program. Examples include:

  • Medical, dental, or mental health emergencies for the student or, in some circumstances, for immediate family members who live with the student
  • Major accidents and events such as fire and natural disasters
  • Expenses related to the death of an immediate family member

Normal living expenses such as rent, car repairs, child care, utilities, taxes, insurance, pet-related expenses, and computer/laptop replacement are generally not covered by this fund.

An “immediate family member” is defined as a student’s spouse or other qualified adult (who shares a primary residence with you and has done so for the previous six continuous months, other than as your employee or tenant) or the son, daughter, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister (or the spouse of any of them), of either the student, the student’s spouse, the other qualified adult, or any other related person living in the student’s household. We acknowledge that students have family relationships that extend beyond their household. As our focus is on assisting the greatest number of Rackham graduate students—with limited funds at our disposal—requests must adhere to this guideline.

Challenges Related to COVID-19

Requests due to COVID-19–related hardships, even those that fall outside of the categories listed above, are welcomed and will receive full consideration. During the pandemic, Rackham will consider funding requests to assist with rent, unlicensed child care, and utilities. Assistance with these expenses will require a demonstration of financial need and will be considered through the spring/summer 2021 term.  

Students who are experiencing financial difficulties that exceed the scope of this fund are encouraged to contact Darlene Ray-Johnson by email, or by phone at 734.936.1647.

Temporary Expansion of Rackham Emergency Fund Eligibility During Spring/Summer 2021 to Include Child Care Expenses Incurred Through Unlicensed Care

Because of needs generated by the disruption of the pandemic, and to support Rackham students who are parents as they pursue research, scholarship, and education, Rackham Graduate School will expand eligibility for Rackham Emergency Fund support during the spring/summer 2021 term to include child care expenses incurred through unlicensed care, with an age limit for dependent children without special needs extended to age 15. (Consistent with current OFA eligibility for licensed care, the expanded eligibility also covers unlicensed care for children with special needs who are under the age of 19.)

Licensed child care expenses of students are currently supported through the campus Child Care Subsidy, administered by the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) with eligibility and subsidy amounts described on their website. The subsidy can be received by qualifying students for eligible expenses paid to licensed child care providers. During the period of the pandemic, the requirement for licensed care has also been extended to include providers licensed outside the state of Michigan. Additionally, during the spring/summer 2021 term, students incurring expenses for 10 weeks of care or more are eligible to receive the licensed Child Care Subsidy through OFA. 

Rackham is offering expanded assistance through the Emergency Fund in light of the ongoing pressures of the pandemic and the fact that the majority of Rackham students continue to conduct research and scholarship during the spring and summer terms. Eligibility for Emergency Fund support will require the following documentation of the unlicensed care to be submitted as part of the Emergency Fund request: (1) a detailed budget demonstrating financial need; (2) a statement from the unlicensed caregiver that includes name, address, phone number, schedule of hours, and rate; and, (3) a statement from the student attesting that the unlicensed caregiver is not a family member. The amount of reimbursement for spring/summer 2021 care will be up to $2,500, consistent with the Rackham Emergency Fund’s administration. Like other pandemic Emergency Fund awards, receiving an award for unlicensed child care expenses during spring/summer 2021 is not limited by past awards received from Rackham, nor will it affect eligibility for future awards. 

This is a one-time expansion of Emergency Fund eligibility for spring/summer 2021 and not a policy that the graduate school will support via the Emergency Fund on a continuing basis. In alignment with university planning and expectations for the upcoming academic year with regard to COVID-19, students should plan to apply for support via OFA’s licensed Child Care Subsidy for the fall 2021 term and beyond.


Students must be enrolled in a Rackham degree program. Rackham doctoral students are limited to two (2) Emergency Fund awards and master’s students are limited to one (1) Emergency Fund award during their graduate career. Ph.D. students on an approved leave of absence are eligible if they were in good academic standing at the beginning of the period of leave, have an approved plan for return to active study at the conclusion of the leave, and experience an emergency situation or unforeseen expense that would interfere with their ability to return to active study as planned.

Students who are experiencing financial difficulties that exceed the scope of this fund may request a meeting with Rackham staff to further explore the difficulties they are experiencing. Staff will be in touch with students to help address needs, concerns, and to assist with campus referrals, as appropriate.


Applications from students are reviewed on a rolling basis once the application is complete.

Award Description

Awards may be up to $2,500 each.

For students who qualify for need-based financial aid (including the child care subsidy), receipt of this Rackham award may reduce the original loan amount or subsidy. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid prior to submitting your application for help evaluating your individual circumstance and possible impact to your financial aid.

Application Process

Students should apply online. Before applying for emergency funds, students are encouraged to speak to their faculty advisors and the graduate chairs of their programs. These individuals may be able to help identify sources of financial assistance and/or provide useful advice. The online application includes the following:

  • Brief statement describing the emergency situation or one-time, unusual, or unforeseen expense and the total dollar amount of emergency funds being requested. (1,500 words)
  • Budget detailing the amount of emergency funding requested, a list of current expenses and an itemized list of how the funds will be used, and your financial situation including sources of income and other available funding. (1,500 words)

Apply for Rackham Graduate Student Emergency Funds