WCC Uses CARES Act and CRRSAA Act Funds to Help Students Persevere and Succeed
Westchester Community College has distributed over $6 million in emergency financial aid grants to more than 3,400 students through federal CARES Act funding. WCC received $7.2 million in total CARES Act funding to be used equally for student aid and institutional support. The college decided to direct two-thirds of its Institutional CARES Act award towards direct student aid. As a result, student grants represent 83% of WCC’s overall CARES Act allocation, far surpassing the federal minimum requirement of 50%.
In addition to the CARES Act funding, the College has received federal CRSSA funds of $3.6 million for Student Emergency Aid, and has, to date, distributed $2.8 million of those funds. The College also received a separate CARES Act grant as a Minority Serving Institution, and will be receiving further student awards through ARP Act funding shortly.
The emergency grants have enabled WCC students to remain enrolled and pursue the coursework needed to complete their studies despite hardships they encountered due to the pandemic and resulting economic crises. Of the 3,451 students who received a financial award, more than half received multiple grants, indicating the level of need many of WCC’s students faced. Students were able to use this aid for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care and/or transportation as a result of the crisis.
“As a single mother with two children (one who has special needs), the pandemic hit us hard,” said WCC student Silmara Grandes. “My daughter was no longer able to receive special education outside of the home, which meant I could not work for several months. That’s when Professor G told me about the CARES Act. The grant allowed me to care for my family, pay some of my bills, and graduate with a 3.64 GPA! I am so grateful to the college for all of their guidance over the past couple of years, and especially for helping me in our time of need. I have always felt that the professors and advisors at WCC always cared! I look forward to beginning my next chapter!”
In addition to these direct payments to students in need, WCC supported students through other initiatives, including providing laptops to students who needed these to continue their studies remotely; distribution of hundreds of pre-bagged meals, food gift cards and transportation vouchers; and mental health and counseling services for those struggling with the strains of the pandemic and related issues.
“Westchester County was the original epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States,” said Dr. Belinda S. Miles, president of Westchester Community College. “Many members of the WCC community, especially our students, faced challenges of health concerns, loss of family and friends, economic hardships, childcare requirements, and stress from social injustice. Our students were inspirational in their resilience and determination in persevering, and every member of the WCC community was honored to do their share in supporting our students’ efforts.”
Westchester Community College provides over 31,000 full-time and part-time students with an education taught by award-winning faculty at one of the lowest tuition rates in New York State. The college offers over 60 degree and certificate programs, including innovative programs in such high-demand fields as cybersecurity, health information technology, respiratory therapy, and digital filmmaking. The college reflects the rich diversity of its region and was the first SUNY campus to be designated a Hispanic Serving Institution.