Up to 1,300 or more San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) students who had been excluded by the United States Department of Education from collecting Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act funds will be receiving an emergency grant of $200 to help them cope with financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to United Way of San Diego County.
United Way of San Diego County is sending a total of $267,000 to the SDCCD. Students at Mesa College, the largest in the district, will share $96,120; City College is receiving $64,080; Miramar College is receiving $58,740, and San Diego Continuing Education is receiving $48,060.
Funds are limited to SDCCD students who were initially ruled ineligible for emergency CARES Act grants distributed by colleges and universities. Approximately 24,000 SDCCD students were kept from receiving those grants because of a federal directive limiting them to Title IV students – or those who qualified for federal financial aid. That effectively excluded DACA students, international students, and all Continuing Education students, among others. (Following a lawsuit filed by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and five local districts, including the SDCCD, the federal directive has since been placed on hold through a District Court judge’s preliminary injunction.)
Some of the affected students have found relief through other CARES Act provisions, however. Students who did not qualify for other state or federal benefits can request an emergency $200 grant through the United Way-funded initiative.
“I commend United Way of San Diego County for supporting students who were excluded from the federal CARES Act funding,” said Chancellor Constance M. Carroll. “The San Diego Community College District supports all students, including DACA and undocumented students who deserve the same opportunities as other students. This grant makes a strong statement about inclusion and equity, while providing the laptops and electronic tools that students need today in order to continue their education in an online format.”
“We are proud to partner with the San Diego Community College District to assist students who have been denied CARES Act Funding,” says United Way of San Diego County President and CEO Nancy L. Sasaki. “These emergency grants will help them cover basic necessities they urgently need, such as rent, mortgage, utility payments, and food. As we have for 100 years, United Way of San Diego County will continue to address inequities and take action to aid the most vulnerable in our community.”
The organization will distribute funds to the SDCCD later in July, and the SDCCD will distribute the $200 payments to eligible students in the following weeks.
The primary challenges students at City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges face from the COVID-19 fallout are financial, with 29% of students at City, 24% of students at Mesa, and 18% percent of students at Miramar who were surveyed saying they can’t to pay the rent, mortgage, or utility bills. More than 5,490 SDCCD students to date have received CARES Act payments of up to $500 for qualified COVID-19 economic hardships.
As one of the largest of California’s 73 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and San Diego Continuing Education. The three colleges, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Mesa College also offers a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. Continuing Education offers noncredit adult