Texarkana Gazette

Relief funds available to students at UA-Cossatot

- By Andrew Bell

De QUEEN, Ark. — University of Arkansas-Cossatot Community College recently received an additional $387,000 in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds II for student financial relief. As such, it has re-opened the applicatio­n to distribute Coronaviru­s Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds for spring 2021.

Students who qualify for the grant will receive $500 if they are enrolled in 9 credit hours or more. Students who qualify for the grant will receive $250 if they are enrolled in 3 to 8 credit hours.

There is no deadline to apply; however, funds are limited, officials say. Awarded will continue to be made to eligible students until all funds are disbursed. And a change in the most recent award guidelines now allows dual-enrolled high school students to apply for the new funds.

“The student funds go directly to students in the form of grants, not scholarshi­ps,” Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole said. “We actually just cut a check to the student and they do with that money what they need to do with it. That’s up to them.”

The CARES Grant is intended to help offset expenses students experience­d because of the COVID-19 health emergency. Student applicants are required to indicate their financial needs as a result of COVID-19 on their applicatio­n, as the requiremen­ts for the spending of these funds are strict.

“This allows us to spread it as far as we can, and it can go a long way,” Cole said. “It’s not the silver bullet. I understand that. But I think that anything helps. I think our students have far more needs than this, but we think that amount, broken down that way, helps about 1,000 students in some way.”

This money comes from approximat­ely $1.687 million of Coronaviru­s Response and Relief Supplement­al Appropriat­ions Act funds received by the college, with around $1.3 million being designated for institutio­nal funds. These institutio­nal dollars are typically spent on school or campus expenses like HVAC systems, desks, WiFi, etc.

Cole said, however, that UA-Cossatot will be using part of the institutio­nal funds received — about $300,000 — to pay for student debt accrued due to challenges the pandemic presented.

“With this new CRRSAA money, we actually are taking some of our institutio­nal dollars and we are paying students who are currently enrolled — if they have existing debt since the pandemic began last spring — we are using institutio­nal funds to pay that debt,” he said. “If a student owes us a bill from the past, and it was because they have a need due to the pandemic, we are paying their bill in full.”

In addition, UA-Cossatot is looking towards mental health services for students with its institutio­nal funds. Cole said mental health has become an issue that needs to be addressed among students.

“It’s very concerning for all of us because we see it every day, that there’s a lot of students who have a lot of needs,” he said. “And there’s just a lot of hurdles. So, we try to do what we can.”

UA-Cossatot CARES Grant applicatio­ns will be sent to student’s college and personal emails as well as a mailed letter with a QR code to apply.

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