By SKYE SEIPP
Students needing help financially can apply for money from the U.S. Department of Education through the Edquity app.
Students must be enrolled in summer or fall classes to apply.
The money comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that was passed on March 27. Each institution must give half of its allotted funds to students.
Eastfield received roughly $3.65 million total in federal stimulus aid from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, of which about $1.8 million must go to students.
The Dallas County Community College District as a whole received about $19.5 million federal stimulus aid.
Chief of Advancement Initiatives Pyeper Wilkins said the Department of Education has not given clear guidance on how to award the funds to students.
She said students have to meet Title IV requirements to get funds, meaning they must be eligible for financial aid, be a U.S. citizen and be in good academic standing.
Wilkins added that students are not required to receive financial aid, they just have to be eligible.
“There’s very few ways to determine whether you are eligible besides filling out a FAFSA form,” she said. “It’s going to be really important for students to fill that out. We are not going to require that students fill that out, but it will be a longer process to get a student some of those CARES Act dollars if they haven’t already filled out that FAFSA.”
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Students who have already filled out FAFSA will still have to go through Edquity to apply for emergency aid.
Wilkins said it takes about 10 minutes to apply and can be done through the mobile app or on a computer.
Students who are not U.S. citizens can apply through the Edquity app for emergency aid from the DCCCD Foundation which has $1 million available from donations.
Wilkins said all students fill out the same application using Edquity and the district will figure out which aid to draw from.
“It’s the right thing to do,” she said. “We are committed to helping all students, not just those that are deemed eligible by the Department of Education.”
According to the Education Department, the funding for students can go towards food, housing, materials, technology, health care and childcare.
Wilkins said different amounts will be awarded depending on what the emergency is.
Money from the CARES Act and through the Foundation cannot be used to pay for classes.
“Emergency aid is not a scholarship to pay for classes,” she said. “It is for all those things that are beyond classes that still cause students major problems and cause students to have to drop out if they can’t pay their rent or bills.”
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Students typically receive an answer on their eligibility within 48 hours and funds are deposited about 72 hours after filling out the application, she said.
Through Edquity students can put their banking information in the app and have the money directly deposited into their account.
Wilkins said for the CARES Act money students can choose to not put their banking information in the app and receive a check.
She said students will be awarded the money from the institution they attend.
The other half of the CARES act is for institutional aid.
Wilkins said that money will be used to reimburse the district for technology they purchased when classes went online and to help ensure labs and classes are safe for those who have begun returning.
About half of the institutional aid will be used to reimburse the district for the amount they refunded to students who dropped classes.
As part of the DCCCD’s effort to help during the pandemic, students were able to drop a class up to the last day and receive a full refund.
She said in total it came out to be about $4.5 million.
“Some people just couldn’t do it and not everybody can,” Wilkins said. “We want to, at least financially, make them whole.”
— Hunter Garza contributed to this report.