As students all over the country struggle with the abrupt closure of college campuses due to COVID-19 concerns, companies like U-Haul, AT&T and Hertz have stepped up and offered aid to students in need of access to storage, internet access, and transportation.
Other companies, such as Enterprise and Adobe also pledged their services to students affected by the current health crisis. Enterprise and Hertz, two of the nation’s largest car rental businesses, are now lowering their minimum age requirement for renting a vehicle to 18 years of age. They hope to help students get home safely to their families. AT&T has promised to provide students in need of it with free internet access, U-Haul has pledged 30 days of free storage for displaced students, and Adobe has made its programs freely available for use by students during these uncertain times. “College students make up such a significant segment of our customer base, so lending a hand with our 30 days free self-storage program across all of the U.S. and Canada seemed like the right thing to do,” said Jeff Lockridge, a Public Relations representative for U-Haul.
Lockridge said that all students would need a Student ID order to secure their 30 days of free storage. In addition, Lockridge said “If we have a vacant unit or U-Box portable storage container, we’re going to take care of you,” and in the event that they do not, they will “find you free storage at [their] next closest store.” No purchase will be necessary, besides a lock used to secure the storage unit. “U-Haul, as an official American Red Cross Disaster Responder, is used to stepping up when help is needed,” said Lockridge. Students looking to find their closest U-Haul storage facility can go to the website: uhaul.com/storage.
Once students have secured their belongings if necessary, the next thing on their minds will probably be getting home to their family. With air travel in such a state of flux, Hertz and Enterprise both took a helpful step in the right direction by lowering their rental age to 18. Under normal circumstances both companies charge an additional ‘young renter fee’ for people under 25 years old. The average fee for Enterprise is about 20 dollars a day, depending on location, and the Hertz fee is a whopping 30 dollars per day. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, the rival companies are both waiving this fee in addition to lowering their rental ages below 21. In addition, the companies are voiding the restrictions on car class for younger renters and allowing them to rent minivans, pick-up trucks, and cargo vans. Just as with U-Haul’s offer, all that is required is a valid student ID, and an acceptable line of credit. The offer will stand until May 31, 2020.
As of Monday, March 30, students at Spring Hill College resumed classes online, along with thousands of other students across the world. The world of higher education is in an unprecedented era of online communication and productivity. Unlike countries such as Iceland, the United States does not consider internet access a human right, so in recent days internet providers such as AT&T have offered their help. With classes going completely online, students without consistent access to the internet are going to need this assistance. With that in mind, AT&T has pledged that “through May 22nd, qualified schools activating new lines on qualified data-only plans for school-issued tablets, 4G LTE-enabled laptops and hotspot devices will get the wireless data service at no cost for 60 days.” It’s unclear whether or not this service will be extended to areas not normally in range of AT&T 4G LTE. AT&T has also contributed to distance education by donating one million dollars to the free online learning resource Khan Academy. They hope that these efforts will give “students and teachers tools they need for at-home learning.” For additional information visit https://about.att.com/pages/COVID-19.html.
According to the New York Times, the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S has reached 214,000, with 1116 cases in Alabama as of April 2. With these figures looming over the country, citizens staying indoors to avoid spreading the virus are going to need all the assistance that they can get. With companies like Adobe and AT&T providing their services for free, it remains to be seen whether or not the world of higher education will be able to maintain the same standard of productivity as during normal operations. These unprecedented times are testing the limits of the world’s ability to remain digitally connected from a distance.