Heating assistance still available

Shayla Waugh

Shayla Waugh

Rising heating costs with the onset of dropping temperatures during the winter months may leave students a little short on cash.

Assistance to help pay a portion of those heating costs is still available through a statewide Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).

Cyndy Boesch, a community service worker with Inter-Lakes Community Action, said although specific numbers of how many college students are applying for assistance are unavailable, the program has seen a large increase in applications across South Dakota.

The program provides heating assistance from Oct. 1 through April 30. Boesch said although there is no deadline for the program and applications can be turned in until the end of March, the sooner an application is turned in, the more money the applicant can hope to receive.

“In general, the program has seen a large increase in applications this season, but about 99 percent of students were unaware that assistance was available to help in their heating costs,” said Boesch.

Assistance through the program is based on income from the last three full months of income, which applicants must provide proof of to qualify for the program. To qualify, one must be a resident of South Dakota. The account with the heating company must also be in the applicant’s name.

Boesch said the easiest way for students to apply is to go to www.state.sd.us/social/energy, click on the “energy assistance” link and fill out the application online. She said if students have any questions about the application process, they may contact her at 692-6391.

If the application is filled out online, applicants must make sure to still send their proof of income for the past three months to the Office of Energy Assistance in Pierre.

Funding for the program is allocated from Congress to the state. Boesch said the amount of funding given to the state can vary from year to year, but there are still funds available for students wishing to apply this season.

“I am definitely glad to see that assistance is available to help with heating costs. My roommates and I have seen an increase in heating costs in just these first few months of winter, and the true cold months are still to come,” said Natasha Stoick, a junior from Milbank, SD.

Once applicants are accepted to receive assistance, depending on which type of heating is used in their residence, both the resident and the heating company receive a letter stating how much funding was allotted. The funds are then used until gone. Boesch said applying for assistance as early as possible is important to receive more assistance.