Due to the pandemic closing down everyday life, as well as many workplaces and schools including Bellevue College, many people find themselves struggling financially. Students who relied on BC resources may find it difficult to get other options. Many are unable to adjust to online learning without the proper technology or equipment or may have trouble finding housing or food. In response, the BC CARES act is open to help its students. “Under the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act,” the official BC CARES page stated, “the Higher Education Emergency Fund program provides funds to college students who experienced a financial hardship related to the campus closing and moving all classes and services to an online format.” Applicants can potentially earn up to $1,500.
To apply, students must fill out an online form. Forms will be reviewed within seven business days. First, applicants need a Net ID to sign in, and a BC email. Applicants also need to meet the following criteria. Firstly, students need “a high school diploma or equivalent,” so no Running Start students will qualify. Next, applicants need to be working on a degree that requires at least 24 credits. If they’re a continuing student, they need a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or more. They also need to be able to take classes on-campus, meaning that they live in-state and don’t have a history of only taking online courses. Next, they need to either be a permanent resident or a citizen and be registered in Selective Service if they’re a male over 18. Finally, applicants can’t be “in default of a federal student loan or owe a repayment of a federal grant.”
The amount awarded to individual students varies depending on a variety of factors. This includes the size and total income of an applicant’s household, the number of credits they are taking, and the hardships they have as a result of the campus closure. Applicants can mark “food insecurity,” specifically “due to closure of the food pantry, benefits hub, cafeteria or other services on campus that assisted in this area,” lack of technology needed to take classes remotely, lack of necessary equipment for classes, housing-related issues, increased cost of books due to the bookstore closing or increased childcare costs. A maximum of two needs can be selected.
The funds can be used freely; BC won’t restrict how money from CARES can be spent. The money isn’t a loan, either, and there’s no need to repay it. In addition, the money won’t reduce financial aid in other areas. Currently, there is no deadline for applicants. However, there is a limited amount of funding available. Applications will be closed once it runs out, and the best chance of getting funding is by applying as early as possible. Despite the hardships many are going through, Bellevue College is here to support its students. Many are willing to help each other throughout these hard times