Santa Monica College receives over $12 million in federal aid
By Chad Winthrop
Santa Monica College (SMC) students facing severe financial problems due to the COVID-19 crisis are getting checks up to $1,000 as part of over $12 million in federal aid the school has received.
On Thursday, SMC announced it is distributing $6.1 million in direct financial assistance to students facing severe financial problems due to the COVID-19 crisis. The funds are provided by the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act and the HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund) to ease the hardship of students who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“Many of them, even under ‘normal’ circumstances, persist in seeking to make better lives for themselves and their families—through higher education—under great odds. This pandemic has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of thousands of them, and the financial assistance through the CARES Act will truly make a difference,” said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President.
According to SMC, approximately 5,000 students at SMC are expected to qualify for the special one-time funding. Many have already received checks — ranging from $350 to $1,000 — and more students will see funds arrive in the coming weeks.
SMC student Joselyn Acosta, a single mother returning to SMC as a sophomore after two years away to care for her daughter, plans to use the money to have her gas turned back on and pay her electric bill. She is an active member of SMC Cheer, and said the group is a critically important source of emotional support for her. An Early Childhood Education major, Acosta is preparing to qualify for an Assistant Teacher permit and plans on a career as a counselor for elementary school students. She has been using a Chromebook borrowed through SMC’s free laptop-lending program, but hopes to use some of the funds she receives to buy a computer of her own for her studies, and “free up the Chromebook for someone else who needs it.”
The selection process, made by a committee led by Teresita Rodriguez, VP of Enrollment Developme, included reviewing students who had completed a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and met certain other criteria, including qualifying for the Community College Promise Grant for low-income students and affiliation with one or more of SMC’s extensive student support programs.
While the CARES funds are available only to Title IV-eligible students who are U.S. citizens or nationals, SMC says it will use a different funding source for international students and Dreamers, among other students who don’t qualify who need assistance.
SMC was also awarded an equal amount of $6.1 million to cover costs related to the disruption of classes and services and the transition to an online environment. Earlier this month, SMC announced that its fall session will be held online.