Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
The University of New Mexico has given more than 200 “mini-scholarships” so students can pay for internet service, loaned out more than 100 laptops and distributed iPhones in an attempt to help lower-income students take classes remotely.
UNM, like colleges around the country, is holding classes online for the rest of the semester to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But while increasing safety, the tactic could create a struggle for students without the equipment and resources to finish their coursework, said Pamela Cheek, the associate provost for student success.
So the school put in place several measures to help students.
They gathered about 200 laptops from various sources around campus, including the libraries, and bought about 100 iPhones to lend students. By last Friday, the school had given out 210 $200 scholarships to help students buy internet access, said Duane Arruti, chief information officer at UNM.
The school is also distributing information about where in the city and state students can tap into free WiFi zones.
Central New Mexico Community College is also loaning students computers. So far, 141 students have borrowed about 210 desktop computers from the college. CNM is distributing the computers to students in shifts of 20 students per day in an effort to maintain social distancing while loaning out the equipment, said Brad Moore, a CNM spokesman.
UNM also is providing the extra resources at students who receive Pell Grants – federal grants to students who have a financial need – and students who were referred by faculty and advisers, Cheek said.
About half of the laptops UNM drummed up for the loan program have been sent to students, Arruti said.
“The goal is to make it possible for students to have the connectivity necessary and the equipment necessary to continue with their studies this semester and graduate from UNM. And we want to do what we can to make that happen,” Cheek said. “The students who are most eligible are students with the greatest degree of financial challenges.”