Michael Watkins/ Courier Stockphoto: The ramp leading to the CC and B buildings on the Pasadena City College Campus on February 28, 2018.
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PCC notified eligible students through an email on April 27 of the coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds that the college will receive. The college is planning to distribute these funds to students and other programs, to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’re getting a little over 15 million from the CARES Act,” said Cynthia Olivo, vice president of Student Services. “50% goes directly to students and the other 50% can help the college with the expenses related to addressing the needs that resulted from the pandemic.”

The U.S. Department of Education has mandated that the aid will only be given to students who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and who have a high school diploma. 

Other qualifying elements were determined by PCC to ensure that students with the most unmet need will receive aid. These elements include estimated family contribution (EFC) or how much a family contributed to a student’s college expenses and the number of units enrolled. 

“If [EFC] it’s at $0.00, that means your family situation has living expenses they have to pay attention to, and they are not able to afford to help you out with college,” said Olivo. “We pulled every student that had $0.00.”

Unmet needs are determined by the cost of attending PCC. For example, if it costs $20,000 to attend school per year and a student receives $8,000 in Federal Pell Grant, they will have an unmet need of $12,000. 

This student can also apply for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant for an additional $4,000, which would leave the student with $8,000 unmet need. In addition, the student can apply also for the Federal Work-Study program which would offer another $4,000. The student’s unmet need will then drop from $8,000 to $4,000. 

However, the CARES Act is for students who have the greatest unmet need of at least $7,000. This was purposeful in order to create equity and eliminate equity gaps among students. 

Award sizes are separated into four groups. Group A will receive $1,000. Those are students who have $7,000 in unmet needs, meet the EFC of $0.00, are enrolled in 12 or more units and meet all federal guidelines. 

Group B will receive $750. Those are students who have the same criteria as Group A, but they are enrolled in less than 12 units. 

Group C will receive $500. Group C has $0.00 to $500 in EFC, is enrolled in any number of units, and has $3,000 in unmet needs. 

Group D will receive $1,000. Those are students who participate in programs that align with PCC’s equity outcomes such as formerly incarcerated students, veterans, African American and Latina/o/x. Those students have an unmet need of $1,500 or greater, are eligible for federal aid and enrolled in any number of units. 

Approximately $500,000 has been set aside for students who are not eligible for the CARES Act. The PCC 2020 Emergency Financial Assistance for Students form can be found on LancerPoint. Students who qualify are eligible to receive up to $2,000 in emergency assistance funds. 

BankMobile, a digital-only bank, will distribute the funds upon acceptance. Students can choose to open a BankMobile account and transfer the funds into their established account, or they can receive a mailed check. The aid will be deposited within seven to ten business days. 

The other 50% has been set aside for college-related expenses such as sanitizing every room on campus, the Lancer Pantry, and replenishing laptop lenders that are not returned by students. 

PCC is also putting money aside for the fall in case there is a second wave of the coronavirus. 

According to the Department of Education, each institution was given significant discretion, while emphasizing that they should focus on the student with the greatest needs. The plan for the distribution of the CARES Act was reviewed by the PCC executive committee which includes PCC President Dr. Endrijonas.

“We are grateful for the CARES Act funding,” Endrijonas said. “We have provided the opportunity for 5,500 students to access additional CARES Act aid, and thus far, over 4,500 students have responded to accept the aid.”

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