All across the country the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic touched everyone in some way, including college students.
When an extended Spring Break at Northeast Mississippi Community College turned into the end of traditional, face-to-face classes for the remainder of the spring semester, students were forced to adjust quickly to a new normal.
All instruction was delivered exclusively in digital format for the rest of the term. The announcement that summer classes at the college would follow the same model soon followed, and so too did the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CARES Act provides economic relief to students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).
“We are pleased to manage the funds provided by the Federal Government through the CARES Act to assist our students that were affected by the COVID-19,” Northeast president Dr. Ricky G. Ford said.
“These monies will help to defray some of the costs our students encountered with the conversion to a fully online format with their classes.”
Northeast was and remains committed to providing this economic relief money directly to its students in as transparent and expeditious a manner as possible. Undoubtedly, there will be questions regarding eligibility to receive these funds, how the money will be distributed to students, and how receipt of CARES Act funding may impact a student’s other finances.
“We released the second and final disbursement of the CARES ACT funds on Tuesday June 2,” reported Greg Windam, director of financial aid at Northeast.
“Approximately 2,400 students have received a portion of the those funds totaling $1,894,980.68.
“We are hopeful that this will assist students that incurred extra expenses, such as housing, meals, internet costs and extra equipment, related to the transition to online classes. These students have gone through a lot since March and many have faced economic hardships that have added extra stress. We hope that these funds can help ease some of that stress.”
Based on guidance provided by the Department of Education, students were required to meet the following eligibility parameters to qualify for CARES Act funds: Be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. (e.g., be eligible to receive federal financial aid funds such as the Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, Direct Loans, etc.), Not enrolled in an exclusively online program or classes on or prior to March 13, 2020 and Be a degree-seeking student enrolled in 1 or more credit hours (excluding Life Learning Skills classes (LLS)) for the Spring 2020 term.
Windam said the funds are not counted as gross income and does not have to be repaid.