by Liz Lopez
The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27th, 2020 to provide direct economic assistance for individuals and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
A portion of that money, roughly $14 billion, was allocated to the Office of Postsecondary Education, for a fund called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). City College was allotted $7,009,874 million from those federal funds, half of which was given directly to students per the CARES Act mandate. How City College will allocate the other half of the funds has yet to be determined, according to City College Spokesperson Rachel Howard of BergDavis Public Affairs.
“$3,504,937 in cash grants were distributed to 3,468 students. Per federal law, noncredit, undocumented and DACA students were ineligible for the funding,” Howard said. “After City College distributed cash grants to our students, some of these restrictions were lifted. The College quickly pivoted and disbursed cash grants to these students through the CCSF Foundation.”
Qualified City College students were sent an email notifying them of the grant in early May. In order to qualify, City College students had to be at least part-time students, eligible to receive federal financial aid, have completed a FAFSA and have a satisfactory academic record.
Once approved there was a quick turn around time to receive CARES Act funds for those that signed up for direct deposit. Full time students that met qualifications were awarded a one-time payment of $1,309. Half-time students were awarded a one-time payment of $325. Some full-time students feel that this payment is going to make fall semester survivable, especially with the $600 a week pandemic unemployment benefits that ended on July 25, which was a key source of aid to unemployed students.
The HEROES Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, would extend the $600 a week unemployment benefits through January 31, 2021. It would include an additional $1,200 payment to individuals, a moratorium on evictions and expanded paid sick leave for all workers. It passed the House of Representatives on May 15, 2020 but has yet to pass the Senate, which leaves students to wonder how the federal government and City College is going to provide student support during the rest of the year.