AC gives $10.8M in COVID relief funds to students

Illustration by Issac Galan | The Ranger

By Erica Vanbuskirk

Student Reporter

Amarillo College has distributed $10.8 million to students directly affected by the Coronavirus. The money came from the federal government through the American Relief Grant for student emergency aid.

The AC application site closed within 72 hours because all funds were given out. 

“We had over 1,600 applications that came through in those first three days. It was way more than we anticipated,” Jordan Herrera, director of social services, said.

Some students tried to apply for the funding but couldn’t because the funds were depleted so quickly.

“My classmate said she applied, but the funds were not available anymore,” Lori Livengood, a nursing major, said. “I know the application wasn’t supposed to close until October. I guess a lot of people heard about it and they ran out of funds really early,” she said.

Unlike other relief funds received and distributed by the school, during this round, students were pre-approved for both the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022.

“The need was so great,” Cara Crowley, president of strategic initiatives, said. “I’ll be honest it really overwhelmed me.”

In order to be considered for the funds, students had to fill out a questionnaire. Once the questionnaire was completed, students then had to fill out a self-assessment where they rated themselves one through five when looking into several potential insecurities such as housing and food insecurities. 

“It was actually very easy,” Livengood said. “I thought it was going to have a lot more questions, and want a lot more personal info. It was very fast,” 

Approximately 1,600 students were awarded funds according to Crowley. Most students received $6,000.

“Once an approval was made, the student was awarded by the financial aid office,” Kelly Steelman, director of financial aid, said. “Approvals were done throughout the week and awards were posted to student’s accounts. Refunds were then issued within 14 days to students who qualified.”

“Students who met the criteria for this year’s funds were awarded,” Herrera said. “This year students had to show financial need and they also had to show that they have been impacted by COVID.”

Some students, such as Livengood, are single moms who lost a job or two that helped them cover their cost of living. Livengood explained that her biggest financial need was child care. “They aren’t lenient in nursing school, so you can’t miss at all. I needed something reliable, so day care was the only option. It’s so expensive so I had to make it last,” she said. 

AC officials said the demographics of the students who received funds should be available later this month. Based on the last two relief funds, the recipients consisted of first-generation college students, those in minority groups and many women with children, Crowley explained. 

“I’m really glad that I did find out about it because it really does help,” Livengood said. “I’m just grateful that I was able to get it.”

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