On Oct. 29, students received an email announcing the third installation of COVID-19 relief funding from the government. While all students received at least $250, priority funding was given to those that demonstrated financial need as determined by the Eckerd College CARES Committee.
Members of the CARES committee includes Vice President of Enrollment Management John Sullivan, Financial Aid Director Kelly McGaughey, Associate Vice President for Finance and Controller Robin Remley, Bursar Angie Noronow and Director of Outreach Services and Health Promotion Cory Champer.
This email from Bursar Angie Noronow said that the CARES money will be distributed over the course of several weeks through direct deposit accounts. If students don’t have that set up with the college they will be given a check available at the Bursar’s Office. Emails will be sent directly to students when their checks are available for pick up.
According to Noronow’s email, these funds are from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III). This money was authorized to be used from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which was signed into law on Mar. 11, 2021.
Remley said that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. This bill allocated 14 billion dollars to the first HEERF fund under the Department of Education. Later legislation was then signed in December 2020 for the HEERF II and again in March 2021 for HEERF III, which is the fund that students are currently receiving aid from.
Remley said that the CARES Committee is allocating $2,012,339 to students for emergency relief. Under the HEERF III, every student was eligible to receive money.
“Students are no longer required to be eligible for Title IV student financial aid to receive a distribution,” Remley said. “Further, undocumented students and international students also become eligible.”
With this new flexibility in distribution, the CARES committee is able to award every student with some level of financial support. According to Remley, the CARES committee was formed in April 2020 after the CARES Act was passed. The committee members are staff that are responsible for awarding aid to students, overseeing student accounts, grant compliance and outreach.
First-year Ellery Overstreet said the money was helpful because they do not currently have a job on campus.
Overstree doesn’t have a job on campus because their parents wanted them to focus on their studies. For them, it’s weird not having a consistent income because they had been at the same job for almost four years.
“I think I’d be a lot more stressed without the CARES Act payment. I’m glad we got it now because I can get Christmas presents for everyone and make it feel a little bit more normal,” Overstreet said.
Sophomore Lauren Stewart is also thankful for the aid coming from the relief funding. They had worked three jobs at Eckerd so far.
“I am not in the best financial situation,” Stewart said. “Every single penny I’ve gotten from my jobs at Eckerd have gone directly towards my college bank account.”
During the beginning of the pandemic, Stewart’s mother lost her job and insurance, making working during the peak of the pandemic dangerous. Stewart has also been extra careful during the pandemic, which has limited what jobs they can work.
“I am grateful for the money because this will help me stay here,” Stewart said. “I’ve not always been certain I will be able to do that, but I’m glad to live to see another semester.”