DENVER (KDVR) — Colleges across the country have started awarding millions of dollars to students this month as part of a provision in the CARES Act.
The grants are designed to assist students with school expenses and emergency costs — helping them stay enrolled in school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a huge adjustment,” said Arapahoe Community College student Tim Knott.
Knott was in his last semester of school at ACC, earning his associate degree in communications, when COVID-19 hit.
He says, suddenly, he had a lot more to worry about than just his classes.
“Really where it came from was being able to pay my bills moving forward. I’m a solo parent, so it’s just my daughter and I,” said Knott before adding, “Being able to make rent every month, when all of a sudden there are no job opportunities —it’s incredibly stressful.”
ACC says community college students were hit especially hard by the pandemic.
“A lot of our students are adult students who return to school. So, they’re parenting. I think that’s a huge thing, unlike your 18-22 year-olds,” said Lisa Matye Edwards, vice president of Student Affairs.
“If they’ve lost their jobs or their housing has become unstable — all that was happening for some of them before this even happened,” she added.
As part of the CARES Act, colleges across the state received millions of dollars — half of which is designated specifically for student grants.
ACC received a little over $2 million. At least half of that will go directly to students.
“It allowed me to be able to take a breath and focus on the things I need to do,” said Knott.
He is one of 434 ACC students so far to receive the emergency grant.
Staff say just under 900 students have applied for grant money since the application was made available in late April.
The school began awarding money on May 3.
“I did have that little bit of extra money come in to go, ‘OK, we’re going to keep a roof over our heads for the foreseeable future.’ Personally for my mental health — I can’t even begin to talk about what an enormous impact it had,” Knott said.
The average award is about $1,000 at ACC, but school officials say that’s enough to keep some students from being forced to take time off.
“We have a lot more students who would have had to drop out — not just because of tuition, but because of life. This allowed them to be able to finish what they started, for those that were graduating. It was also one of those things that allowed them to have some basic security and food,” said Matye Edwards.
Half of the money that ACC received from the CARES Act will go toward institutional costs —specifically emergency technical upgrades.
The school does have the ability to shift some of that money over to student grants.
For a full list of colleges that received CARES Act money, click here.