For Andrea Lara-Gasca, a working mom who lost her job due to the pandemic, the financial support she received from the ECC Foundation ensured she didn't lose valuable ground in her studies. “I was worried I would have to stop taking classes and wouldn't be able to finish what I wanted to accomplish,“ said Lara-Gasca. “Now, I can focus on completing my Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing, have the career I want, and be there for my son.“
Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, ECC's allocation of more than $13.8 million in federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds directly benefitted students by helping them pay for educational expenses. Examples of costs covered by the relief funds include tuition, supplies, housing, health care, mental care, and child care.
Along with the significant federal and state funds, several measures were put in place to remove financial obstacles for students, including working with the ECC Foundation to cover gaps in funding with scholarships and grants for those who didn't meet federal criteria but still demonstrated need. More than $220,000 was raised in the past year toward these efforts.
Along with more funding options for students, departments throughout ECC mobilized to provide tangible supports and extended services to minimize disruptions to teaching and learning. Examples include purchasing and distributing computers and Wi-Fi hot spots to students who lacked access to adequate technology, covering required testing fees, amending class refund policies, and mailing class materials and graduation regalia packets to students during the pandemic.
“The funding ECC received and raised significantly improved our students' ability to continue in their studies. We are working to leverage every dollar even further by removing as many hurdles as possible through our own cost-saving strategies,“ said ECC President David Sam, PhD, JD, LLM. “I want every one of our students to know we are committed to providing ongoing financial support so they can accomplish their educational and career goals, despite increased adversity and economic hardships.“