Direct emergency aid helped thousands of Grossmont, Cuyamaca college students through pandemic
EL CAJON – More than $20 million in federal emergency aid has been disbursed to thousands of students in the Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, helping to cover basic needs and enable them to focus on their education.
The aid, awarded directly to students as $500, $750, and $1,000 cash grants, has helped students pay a variety of expenses including books and supplies, housing expenses, food, clothing, transportation, and childcare. Some students have received more than one grant since the pandemic began in March 2020.
As of Sept. 29, more than 7,400 students at Cuyamaca College have received a total of $7,998,972 in direct cash grants. More than 12,000 students at Grossmont College students have received a total of $12,161,562. About $1.2 million in federal funding remains to disperse to Cuyamaca students, and about $9 million remains for Grossmont students.
Cuyamaca students who need emergency aid can apply through the Cuyamaca Cares Emergency Assistance Fund, at https://www.cuyamaca.edu/student-support/cuyamaca-cares/index.php. Grossmont students can apply for aid at the college’s Emergency Grants web page at https://www.grossmont.edu/financial-aid/grants/emergency-grants.php.
“Our students have had to juggle so much – transportation costs, grocery bills, rent, utility bills, childcare, health care – all at a time when many have lost their jobs or had their hours cut back during this pandemic,” said Marsha Gable, Vice President of Student Services at Grossmont College. “I’m very happy we’ve had the federal support to help our students make ends meet at a challenging time, so they can focus on their educations without as many worries as they might have without the aid.”
Funding for emergency student aid has come through the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Emergency Security (CARES) Act of 2020, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of 2020, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021. This allowed for disbursements of funds to colleges and universities through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).
The federal emergency aid has helped college students around the country stay enrolled in classes, reduce stress, and increase their academic outcomes, a study published Oct. 5 found. The study was based on a survey of 18,000 students and 321 institutions conducted by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators; NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education; and the consulting firm HCM Strategists. The study’s findings are published in the report, “Evaluating Student and Institutional Experiences with HEERF.”
Claudette Clark, a student who has attended both Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges and studies music performance, said the aid helped pay some basic bills at a critical time – between the time she lost work and unemployment benefits began arriving. Clark, like many people across the region and the country saw work evaporate as the pandemic began.
“It was at a time when uncertainty and hopelessness were rising,” said Clark, who lives in Hillcrest. Clark received two $500 cash grants.
Jessica Robinson, Interim President at Cuyamaca College, said students shouldn’t have to choose between a warm meal on their table and their education. “They shouldn’t compete,” Robinson said. “This is why we have these emergency grants.”