New fund helps students overcome financial roadblocks

Mary and Jerry Williams, both TROY alumni, have sponsored a fund aimed at helping students through troubled times.

Mary and Jerry Williams, both TROY alumni, have sponsored a fund aimed at helping students through troubled times.

A new fund established by two alumni is helping Troy University students stay in school.

The Wilson-Williams Student Emergency Fund is available to students who find themselves facing emergency financial situations that could affect their ability to stay enrolled at TROY.

Named for TROY alumni Jerry and Mary Williams and her parents, the fund is aimed at retaining students who encounter unexpected expenses that threaten their education.

“We view it as a safety net for college students,” said Jerry Williams. “This is for occasions when a small amount of money would make the difference in being able to stay in school or having to drop out.”

Specifically, students can apply for funding if they need help to pay for things such as emergency medical expenses, housing costs and emergency transportation repairs.

“This is the fund of last resort, so when you make application, they’re going to check through it very carefully,” Jerry said. “The money doesn’t go directly to the student, it goes to the repair shop or the store providing the service. It’s going to be checked to make sure the student doesn’t have other resources.”

The fund can’t be used for books, tuition, travel, non-emergency medical costs or needs caused by a student’s use of alcohol, drugs or any illegal activity.

“It’s not something to finance these students,” said Mary Williams. “It’s about a bump in the road – if they have problems with their car, if they have an emergency health situation, things like that. Some students are the only person in their family to come to college. Their families have struggled to get them to the university, and something happens and they’re not able to stay.”

Mary Williams’ parents, the Wilsons, helped TROY students during their years running a restaurant in the city. Jerry and Mary later used their example to help TROY students when they ran their own business.

“Her parents had students that lived around them, and they supported them and took care of them,” Jerry said. “That’s the reason we wanted to honor them with that part of it. Some of our fondest memories are of the years that we were in business here and the success of those students that we were able to help through this university.”

A three-person committee overseen by Dean of Student Services Herb Reeves controls distribution of the fund, which is available to Troy Campus students, with preference given to working students, military veterans and students with parents in law enforcement.

The fund has already been a help to students, with five being assisted so far, according to Reeves.

“This fund is a great resource to students,” Reeves said. “Any students who want to apply can come by our Student Services office in room 231 in the Trojan Center.”

Students aren’t required to repay the money, but they’re encouraged to pay what they can to help maintain the fund’s viability.