Success Stories

COVID Relief

A photo of Taylor Taylor's school moved to onlince/remote learning in March.

Taylor is a graduate student attending law school in Colorado. She is considered a "2L" (second-year law student) and has been awarded an AIEF scholarship for both years. We checked in with Taylor at the end of her 2020 spring semester, right before finals week. Her university (like most college campuses and schools throughout the country) transitioned to remote, online learning to keep their students safe from the spread of COVID-19.

On the last day she attended classes (March 11th), her thoughts were with her classmates—'the 3L’s’. “Yesterday was a strange day at school. It’s basically the last day of attending classes and all the ‘3L’ were saying… ’Well it was good meeting you and knowing you.’” Taylor felt bad because she had been with these student leaders for almost two years and they didn’t know if they were going to have a commencement ceremony at this point or if the bar exams would be postponed-which would impact future employment opportunities.

March 12th - “I am going home today; the school is moving to online/remote learning, but the campus is remaining open.”

When Taylor returned to her home state of South Dakota, “I received an email notification that a university staff member from the main campus tested positive for Covid-19—they are closing the campuses and I’m glad to be home.”

A photo of Taylor in front of the Colorado Supreme CourtTaylor is attending law school in Colorado.

Colorado issued a statewide Stay-at-Home order, whereas her home state did not. She began following the CDC recommendations of staying in at her parents’ home in western South Dakota. “I may be home for over a month—and will have to continue paying rent and other expenses but at least my food budget will be covered, and I won’t have to pay to wash my clothes!”

Taylor receives some funding working as a research assistant for a highly respected attorney and author and is thankful she has been allowed to take her work home and still earn a little money remotely.

“I am most worried about my tribal scholarship because it hadn’t arrived at the university yet. Typically, I have to go into the financial aid office to sign the check and then the scholarship gets put into my account. Then after any unpaid balances are satisfied, I will be reimbursed.”

This reimbursement is already reserved to cover her April and May rent and she was concerned if the check was addressed in her name, she would have to travel the 400 miles back to her university to sign it so it could be released into her account. Adding to the stress, the financial aid office staff were also working remotely and only checking their mail each Wednesday. Taylor was notified almost a month after she returned home that the university received her check. Luckily, it was written to the university and would be in her account that following day to access the funds.

Luckily, Taylor received some unexpected funding to make ends meet...

A photo of Taylor working from home Taylor is practicing safe social distancing by staying at her parents home and attending school remotely.

Taylor is no longer considered a dependent on her parent’s tax returns and had been filing on her own for many years since being an undergraduate student. She filed her 2019 taxes in mid-March realizing the money from both state and federal returns would help to cover her other monthly expenses which total about $260/month (not including food, fuel, or laundry):

  • Phone-$55
  • Internet-$45
  • Utilities-$35
  • Renters insurance-$15
  • Car insurance-$110

On March 27th, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act was passed and because of Taylor’s 2018 and 2019 tax filings, she was eligible to receive the $1200 federal tax relief provided to income earners in response to Covid-19. “My (Covid-19 tax) check was deposited) —and that will be June’s rent!” She was thankful for the unexpected federal relief.

Taylor has a summer internship with the Native American Rights Fund beginning in late May and knows that she won’t receive a paycheck well into June, so the tax relief was really a “relief”—knowing that she didn’t have to take out more loans to cover her June expenses.

Even more, relief came when her landlord reached out with a deal that she couldn’t refuse: “We will not increase your rent [as originally intended], but we need you to sign another years’ lease.” She had planned on moving over the summer but was happy that she wouldn’t have to do that in addition to taking on a full-time job.

Even her school loans that are currently in deferment because she is attending school full time, got some relief through the CARES Act…” My school loan won’t be collecting interest for a few months and that will really help because even though my loans are deferred, I try to make regular payments so they don’t get out of hand—Every little bit helps!”

Taylor is managing this crisis and is learning some lifelong lessons in budgeting, staying safe, and being a graduate student amid a worldwide pandemic.

Thank you for your support of Native American students like Taylor!

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