This week, more than 470 West Shore Community College students will receive emergency federal funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist them with unexpected costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In late March, the CARES Act was passed by Congress and signed into law to provide economic relief from COVID-19. It authorized the U.S. Department of Education to provide funding for universities and colleges to award in the form of emergency financial aid grants to eligible students.
WSCC received $564,751 from the CARES Act, of which $282,376 is designated for emergency grants to students. The college will use the remaining funds to pay for other unexpected expenses due to COVID-19.
To be eligible for a CARES Act funding distribution, students must have been enrolled in the winter 2020 semester, be Title IV eligible for federal financial aid, and must not have already received emergency relief funding from the college.
“The pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to our students and college operations,” said WSCC President Scott Ward. “While the college has provided free technology and other emergency assistance, we are grateful to be able to put these dollars directly into the hands of our students.”
Students who have no expected family contribution and are eligible for the maximum Pell grant amount will receive $400 from this fund, while students who are eligible for partial Pell amounts will receive $300. Students who are not Pell-eligible will receive $20 for each contact hour in which they were enrolled up to a maximum of $260.
In the wake of the pandemic, the West Shore Community College Foundation has supported urgent and emergent needs for students, and to prevent the ripple effects of COVID-19 from being a barrier to college persistence.
Several years ago, the foundation established an emergency fund which provides financial support to allow students to stay enrolled, and offer support for food, housing and other needs.
“Our students were already carrying a heavy load prior to COVID-19 and this pandemic has created more financial hardship in many of their lives,” said Thom Hawley, executive director of the foundation. “It’s important to recognize the challenges they face, their commitment to completing their education and we need to do everything we can, as a community, to support them through these trying times.”
On March 23, WSCC shifted classes for credit students to a remote learning format in less than one week’s time. Due to the pandemic, all summer semester classes are being offered online.
WSCC personnel continue to work remotely and limited campus operations are expected to resume in mid-June. In the interim, the college has established many online support services to assist students with specific needs resulting from the pandemic such as online advising, counseling and tutoring.
The summer semester is underway now through July 24. The fall semester runs from August 31 through December 18.
Anyone interested in donating directly to support the emergency student fund should visit the WSCC Foundation “donate now” web page.