Dollar bill and coin

Federal funds help GOCC students

For students receiving federal grants at GOCC, it is about to get even better—as additional funding is on the way for support through 2022

Over 369 students attending Glen Oaks Community College this semester will receive federal emergency grants through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. While the process of awarding grants is almost complete for this semester, any remaining funds will be available to assist students enrolled over the summer as well.

And yet last week, the college learned that further funding from the new American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act signed into order in mid March, is coming next and may be used to support students enrolled through the 2021-2022 academic year. The expected amount of student emergency grant funding for this program is $1,083,500.

“Shortly after the pandemic hit last year, we received and distributed $288,341 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief fund (HEERF), authorized by the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help students get through these challenging times,” said Tonya Howden, vice-president of students. “We were able to help students not only last winter term, but we had enough funding to award students who applied for grants in the summer and fall semesters as well.”

The college is now completing round two of funding. In December 2020, HEERF, authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSAA) Act was signed into effect.

“These funds, also totaling $288,341, require colleges to prioritize grants for students with exceptional financial need, such as those receiving Pell grants,” said Howden. Glen Oaks currently has 262 students receiving Pell grant funding, which is about 47% percent of the traditional student population.

“We asked students to apply and provide detailed information to support financial hardships they have incurred resulting from the pandemic,” said Howden. “We reviewed the applications on a case-by-case basis.”

Other factors affecting awards and amounts include FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC) information, and enrollment intensity – meaning the number of contact hours in which a student is enrolled.

ARP Funds
“We are still awaiting federal guidance on the requirements for distributing these new funds,” said Howden. “It’s a large amount that can assist both new and returning students.

“We also now have many new students attending under the State of Michigan’s Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs,” said Howden. “Although the tuition is paid for through the state, the federal funds could help pick up the remaining costs of attendance such as course fees, technology and books, and it may also provide for necessities such as food, housing, healthcare and childcare.”

Combined, the state programs and federal funding provide great opportunities for students to obtain extra financial assistance.

“Ultimately, our goal is for our students to complete their academic goals,” said Howden. “By relieving some of the financial barriers, students are on a better path to achieving success.”