BC Students Expect Financial Relief Aid

Curtis Michaud

News Editor

“I was laid off because of COVID-19 for about two months now and paying for things has been a hassle,” said Broward College (BC) student Paulina Clement, who is studying to become a social worker, and is one of many BC students who is affected by the pandemic.

As Florida enters the early stages of phase one of reopening business and loosening quarantine guidelines, BC students who still need financial assistance can now see some form of grant funds from the college in the near future.

“I would imagine students that are currently unemployed are having a difficult time balancing remote learning at home and various bills,” said College Provost Dr. Marielena DeSanctis.

BC is one of the many South Florida colleges that will receive aid by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, a law approved by Congress and the federal government to achieve financial stability for their students.

The college will ultimately accept $27 million from the federal government to stabilize the emotional and economic burden the coronavirus pandemic has on faculty, staff, and students.

Caleb Cornelius who oversees Student Financial Services for the college said, “Based on the total allocation we received, 50 percent of that will be used in direct grants to students; roughly about $13.5 million.”

However, this isn’t the first instance BC made attempts to distribute funds to their students.

Early April, BC sent a notice to its students via email that the college is willingly dispersing their own small sample of a relief fund to students who completed an application in a ‘first come first serve’ type of approach.

“As remote learning was being established, it became noticeable that graduation is no longer in motion,” said DeSanctis. “The budget that was supposed to fund graduation, we were quickly able to redeploy to provide some relief to students.”

BC roughly came across $150,000 to distribute to 346 of 5,452 applicants who applied for the fund.

Even though this was a small sample size, it still served its purpose to ease the financial situation, pitching in house utilities such as the internet for remote learning courses.

“Financially, I had a few setbacks and it’s becoming frustrating to keep up with all the online learning classes,” said Political Science Major Daniela Tan-Jun.

Students who were qualified and were lucky enough received the first relief aid by the college, still have the opportunity to apply for the second (SEAhawk Grant).

Vice Provost Janice Stubbs, who is at the forefront among Broward College officials who are lending a hand to students transitioning towards remote learning classes, by providing information and resources with computers and Wi-Fi assistance.

“We created a poll and found out that several students needed laptops and internet access,” Stubbs said. “With the help of our IT (Information Technology) department we distributed 920 laptops and 30 webcams to our students.”

Also, BC has reviewed all their fees they ask students to finance and are in the process of removing and reimbursing parking, lab, and course fees to students who already purchased them.

“We are looking for ways to reduce the expenses for students. Currently, almost a million dollars will be returned to students from fees we are no longer charging,” said Cornelius.

With the SEAhawk Grant and the cancelation course fees, students will now feel as if some weight or pressure will be lifted off their shoulders.

“I truly believe we are going to emerge stronger than before because we had to become more involved to communicate with each other, so we won’t deteriorate any experience from our students,” said DeSanctis.

Funds will be available for students in 2-3 weeks once the application is completed, with the payment method in the student’s bank mobile refund account.

Eligible students will obtain a range from $150 to a max of $850 based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is shown in students’ 2019-2020 FAFSA application.

“We approximated that the bare minimum of $150 is equivalent to about three months of internet service. That will be enough for students who are taking remote learning classes in the summer,” Cornelius said.

Students who only participated in session 2 courses during the spring semester are not qualified to acquire the SEAhawk Grant.

“Session 2 courses ended on March 1, which was prior to any decision that was made to transition towards the remote learning system and more importantly before the Proclamation of National Emergency was issued by the federal government,” said Cornelius.

June 15 will be the application deadline for students who are interested and eligible for the SEAhawk Grant.

“I know on some level that our students are in great need right now,” DeSanctis said. “Our ability to bridge a gap that helps them to concentrate on the goal of completing their degree and changing their life circumstance is what drives us to provide resources for the students.”

For more information on student qualifications and application access for the SEAhawk Grant, visit CARES Act SEAhawk Grant Application .