Students at Meharry Medical College have a new reason to be thankful this week.
The doctors-in-training at the historically Black medical school in Nashville received a big surprise when President James Hildreth announced $10,000 grants for all of the school's 956 students — no strings attached.
“We felt that there was no better way to begin distributing these funds than by giving to our students, who will soon give so much to our world,” he said in a video sharing the news. Hildreth told students that the funds will be available via direct deposit or check on Wednesday.
The money for the grants comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which was established by Congress as part of the CARES Act in March 2020 and is designed to help schools support students who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. The money was intended to help students cover expenses like healthcare, travel expenses, rent and childcare and to help schools better support students through institutional spending on things like laptops for remote learning, additional instructors to reduce class sizes and more.
Thousands of other schools across the country also received federal HEERF funding and are in the process of distributing pandemic relief grants to students. Florida State University distributed grants totaling $17.7 million to more than 16,000 students last month, and Duke University will begin paying out grants of either $1,750 or $3,000 to eligible students in December. Nearly 12,000 students at Howard University will receive HEERF III grants averaging $834.
While every college received this money and was required to distribute much of it directly to students, few have given out grants as large as Meharry’s.
This Thanksgiving, Meharry’s president urged his students to be “good stewards” of their grants. “I know Black Friday shopping is tempting,” Hildreth said, “but you would be well advised to use the funds to pay expenses related to your education and training.”