Clark State College and its students continue to be positively impacted by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) provided to the college throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The higher education emergency relief fund was provided through the bipartisan CARES Act. Clark State received $21,511,095 in funding and nearly half of the monies go directly to students to provide emergency financial support, while the other half of the funds go to the institution to provide financial relief related to Covid-19 related expenses.
As of September 30th, Clark State had distributed $4,728,992 of HEERF funds directly to students (up to $1,500 to each qualified student each semester) to promote their success and achievement of their educational goals throughout the pandemic. Clark State will continue to provide HEERF funding to students in subsequent semesters until all available funds have been distributed.
A majority of HEERF funds distributed to students has been applied to housing and food security needs.
Clark State student Tori May is studying psychology and English. She said she is what is known as a “non-traditional college student.”
“I have to consider and worry about things that the average 18-year-old freshman may not,” she said. “Some days it lingers in my mind all the things that need to be done or thought about: ‘will I have enough for rent and utilities this month without having to worry about using my savings? Will I have enough time to study for my classes outside of or even during my working hours? How many hours can I cut back on before it becomes too detrimental to me?’”
May said she has been on her own for a few years now, her mother having died during the middle of a semester and having to become accustomed to living on her own after surviving “horrible living conditions.”
“I think about these things often as I study, wondering if a catastrophe will hit and I’ll be left wondering if I will be able to come through financially,” said May. “Covid-19 was one such catastrophe, taking away that financial cushion that I worked so painfully hard to create and maintain as a safety net and investment for success between two jobs.”
May said not only did the pandemic state take her livelihood over the course of almost two months, but it also plundered everything she had built from the ground up and delayed her education further.
“Between TRIO and the HEERF funds I received as part of the Covid-19 relief plan, I feel that I am steadily coming back to the place I once was before the pandemic hit and feeling confident that I will make the Dean’s List and thrive as the Writers Club president here on campus once more by the end of the 2021 school year,” she said.
In addition to attending Clark State May works three jobs: as an assisted living aide, a tutor, and a student assistant in the office of student support at Clark State. May said with the assistance from HEERF, she can rest easier knowing she can work to reestablish her financial cushion.
“Outside of this direct distribution of support/funds to students, the top priorities for Clark State’s use of the remaining HEERF funds has been to deploy them on initiatives that promote the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and faculty during the pandemic and on technology infrastructure investments that support a continuous uninterrupted learning experience for our students,” said Doug Schantz, vice president of business affairs at Clark State.
Schantz said to date, Clark State has spent nearly $1.5 million dollars on technology infrastructure enhancements including: Virtual Classroom Audio/Visual Set-ups, Loaner Laptops, Disaster Recovery/System Resiliency Systems, Online Tutoring/Testing, Virtualized Desktops, Electronic Document Storage, Data Fiber Runs, Virtual Labs, and Internet Bandwidth Expansion.
“In addition, we will be investing over $3.5 million dollars in HVAC upgrades across campus that will allow us to bring more fresh air into our facilities and promote better air quality throughout – which mitigates the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Clark State president Dr. Jo Alice Blondin said the college is deeply committed to ensuring the best use of the resources received, and is ensuring that Clark State is deploying these resources in a strategic manner.
“This is one time funding, able to be spent through 2023, and Clark State has unequivocally improved our services to students as a result,” she said.