The Centralia College Foundation is taking donations to support and establish an emergency scholarship fund for students who will still be struggling to fund their education due to the effects of COVID-19 after all of the federal CARES Act funding has been used.
“A lot of community colleges have an emergency plan that is a standard. Centralia College has not, in the past, had an emergency plan per se set up in this way, and this is a good time to do that and now we will continue with the emergency scholarship fund moving forward,” said Christine Fossett, executive director of the Centralia College Foundation.
The CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund/Student Aid is funding allocated by the U.S. Department of Education to colleges that grant the money to students whose lives have been disrupted and need assistance to pay for their education, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Darcell Scott, director of student success and retention programs, said Centralia College has received close to $730,000 in CARES Act funding from the federal government and about 330 students so far have received a scholarship at a maximum of $1,500, to help pay for the expenses of college.
“If there was a scenario where it was beyond our funding then we take a look at how we can provide additional resources for students,” Scott said.
Those additional resources are Student Emergency Assistant Grants, funded by the state. Centralia College has received $100,000 in grants over the past two years.
Fossett said that because of the financial strain the COVID-19 outbreak placed on many students, the CARES Act funding will be used quickly so the Centralia College Foundation has begun collecting donations for an emergency scholarship fund as a back-up for students that are still struggling to pay for their schooling.
“The Centralia College Foundation is always looking for ways to support students and, at some point in time, we anticipate that funding is going to run dry and we will still have students in need,” Fossett said. “So we are asking the community for support to raise enough money to keep students in the classroom when that federal funding runs out.”
Fossett said that this emergency scholarship money can be used not only for tuition and books but for a small car repair or a computer program — anything that is hindering a student from getting to class and continuing their education.
“Most donors do want their scholarship to go toward tuition and books, assuming that if they pay for the tuition and books then the student can handle the other things but we also know that sometimes something comes up that’s completely unexpected and the student has no means of being able to solve that problem which means they don’t even get to use that scholarship,” said Fossett.
Fossett said that she has heard stories from alumni who were close to having to drop out because of their financial situation and received that little bit of extra help that they needed from someone in the community.
“Many of our donors are alumni and they’re all about helping that next group of students that are in a similar circumstance that they were in at one point,” said Fossett.
Those interested in donating can go to the Centralia College Foundation website at www.centralia.edu/foundation/default.aspx.