Recognizing that some Johns Hopkins employees are struggling with unexpected expenses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the university has created an emergency relief fund that will provide grants of up to $1,000 to eligible full-time workers, including those who are third-party contractors.
"Many people are facing challenges they could not have foreseen a few months ago, and JHU is committed to offering a number of resources that can help," wrote Heidi Conway, vice president for human resources, in a message to employees. "A new addition to JHU's support services is the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to assist employees with greatest financial need who are facing challenges brought about by COVID-19, such as health care needs, disruptions in work and child care situations, and family obligations."
The tax-free grants are available immediately on a first-come, first-served basis. Grant recipients must be full-time university employees or contractors earning $50,000 or less per year and have one year of service at JHU.
In order to meet Internal Revenue Code requirements, all eligible expenses must have been incurred after March 13, 2020, and they must be reasonable and necessary costs resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. Documentation of the expenses will be necessary.
Examples of eligible expenses include:
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses (including mental health and wellness) not covered by health insurance if COVID-related
- Child care and/or tutoring expenses incurred because of school closings
- Elder care support if COVID-19 related
- Expenses associated with a death in the immediate family if COVID-19 related
- Support of dependent education during the COVID-19 crisis for grades K-12 (e.g. additional hardware or internet costs)
- Additional transportation expenses (e.g. work relocation, change in mode of transportation to avoid public transit, etc.)
- Transportation and living expenses for college students returning early
More information is on HR's COVID-19 information page under the Financial Resources header. If you are eligible, an application link will appear on your personal enrollment page, which you can reach by going to the Benefits & Worklife page of the HR website, clicking on the myChoices Health & Life Enrollment header, and then clicking the View My Benefits link. Questions can be directed to the Benefits Service Center at 410-516-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In her message, Conway noted that the university also has other resources to assist employees who may be suffering financial hardship.
The university has adopted important changes for the 403(b) plans that are permitted under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Those who qualify may withdraw some funds without penalty or defer payments on an outstanding loan. Details are on HR's COVID-19 information page under the Financial Resources header.
The mySupport program offers 30 minutes of financial counseling at no cost, tax consultations by phone, referrals to community resources, and helpful articles and tools for understanding financial issues. The university also offers emergency loans through its Financial Assistance Program in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union. More information can be found in the application packet.