WGU Indiana has announced plans to distribute more than $90,000 in emergency aid to nearly 200 high-need students. The funding is in addition to nearly $127,000 awarded by Western Governors University to its central region, which includes Indiana, for non-tuition COVID-19 related assistance.

In January, WGU Labs partnered with financial software company Edquity to research the impact of emergency aid on student outcomes. WGU says the partnership provided enough capacity to process thousands of emergency aid requests per week to award the more the $2 million in funding.

“Equity gaps in higher education opportunities are more prevalent than ever since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, including concerns of the digital divide and financial burdens falling on students and families,” said WGU Indiana Chancellor Alison Bell.

WGU says 70% of its students come from one or more underserved populations, and of the more than 4,000 students who received emergency aid, 41% are first-generation college students, 48% reported income under $35,000, and 43% are students of color.

The university says students receiving emergency aid are facing challenges such as food, housing and childcare.

Bell says the university is committed to providing affordable and accessible education, which includes providing to secure basic needs such as food, housing and utilities, allowing students to continue progress toward their degrees.