With less than two weeks until another missed paycheck for government employees, Southern New Hampshire University has created a $1 million emergency fund to help impacted students like Hailey Francoeur and her husband Gabe.
Gabe Francoeur has been in the Coast Guard for several years. He is still going to work every day, but the Portsmouth couple can’t pay their bills.
“We’ve always been really financially stable because of the Coast Guard,” Hailey Francoeur said.
For the first time in their lives, she says they are barely making ends meet.
“As we approached the 15th of this month, my mind was racing, I was lying in bed, like, ‘Oh my God, how are going to pay this, how are we going to pay that,’” she said.
The 15th came and went with no paycheck and in less than two weeks, it’ll happen again.
“Our cable is out, we’re not watching television, our internet isn’t working,” Francoeur said.
The burden of the government shutdown is weighing heavily, especially since they haven't yet bought their first home.
“I worry a lot about the long term effects,” Francoeur said. “I can’t call whoever runs credit scores and say, ‘Hey, don’t lower my credit scores, I’m going through something.’”
Their only saving grace is that Francoeur and her husband are both working toward degrees at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, New Hampshire.
“It’s just so hard to hear that they’re not being able to cover basic needs,” SNHU Representative Libby May said.
That’s why May says school leaders decided to create an emergency fund to make grants available to all students, faculty, and staff members impacted by the shutdown.
“We’re willing to cover just about any sort of need,” May said. “Mortgage payments, utility bills, and things like that.”
Those grants don’t have to be paid back and Francoeur and her husband can apply as many times as they need.
“This is so important, this helps us now and in the future,” she said.
And the school says it’s planning to step up for as long as the government is shut down.
“It this is something we can do to help them stay on track, and help them keep earning their degrees and achieving their dreams, that’s what we are here to do,” May said.
The University says the grants are also available for students, faculty, and staff members whose spouses or partners are government employees.
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