The COVID-19 pandemic has sent tens of thousands of students home from universities around the country, with classes either preemptively ended or changed to an online format. For many students, this will damage the quality of the education they’re receiving, education they’ve paid for. With unemployment simultaneously soaring higher than it’s ever been before, the combination has left many students in a tough spot.

The University of Notre Dame expects 500 more students who weren’t on financial aid to need it when they return, and for those who were already on it to need an average of 10 percent more. Unlike most schools around the country, Notre Dame meets the financial needs of all of its 12,000-plus students, rather than have them rely on federal or private loans.

“Our number one priority is to make sure that no student is unable to complete their education because of this economic downturn. It is the worst in a century,” said Reverend John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s university president.

To this end, Notre Dame hosted a fundraiser called The Fight, to raise funds for coronavirus relief for its student body. In an eight-hour streaming production that featured Garth Brooks and a handful of pro athletes who are also Notre Dame alumni, the university raised $8.7 million for its student body. This massively eclipses the $5.8 million in aid they declined from the Federal CARES act, which Notre Dame never applied for because its endowment makes it largely unnecessary.

The fundraising event, which was streamed on Notre Dame’s website, also featured hours of interviews and personal stories from students, alumni, faculty, and coaches. It highlighted some of the university’s almost 160-year history and its dedication towards supporting progress and the future.

“There’s one thing we can’t afford: Not to have educated leaders for the future,” said Jenkins, summing up the motivation behind the fundraising effort.

Photo by Katherine Welles /