PENDLETON, SC (WSPA)–Some Tri-County Technical College students may already see some extra money on their accounts this semester, that’s thanks to $3 million in stimulus grant funding awarded to the school.
College representatives said the funding will be a game-changer for many students who are struggling.
“Eligibility first goes to those with the greatest need, and so the suggestion from the Department of Education, is that we look at those with Pell Grant eligibility, which are those with lower incomes or larger families and lower incomes. And so we are giving out the money in tiers, as we did in the Spring. And so the higher amounts are going to those with the greatest need,” said Melanie Gillespie, Director of Financial-Aid at Tri-County Technical College.
The $3 million will be dispersed to approximately 3,500 eligible students, this means nearly half of the students on campus could be eligible for the funds if they meet certain requirements. The COVID- 19 relief grant can be used for things like tuition, food, housing, child care, course materials, technology and health care. The funding is a part of the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement Appropriations Act (CRRSA), enacted in late December. Jacquline Jeter said the money will help with things she has been struggling with all year-long.
“Well, first I didn’t believe that I was going to be able to receive anything because it seems like every time I apply for anything, I get denied. So of course, I’m a single mom, so when I heard about it, I said I’m going to take a shot at it anyway so when I did, it really did surprised me that I got accepted,” Jeter said.
Tri-County Tech is the first school in the Upstate to make the funds available to students prior to the money being handed down.
“It really helped me in the time because I was really at a low point and I was just trying to go to school, and of course when life happens, you get deterred from doing a lot of things. So, it actually helped me a long the way a lot,” Jeter said.
Tri-County Tech said students who meet a certain criteria and are Pell Grant recipients will get $1,000 dollars. Those who meet the criteria and are not Pell Grant recipients will get either $625 or $360.
“It’s pretty easy to see the need in the amount of phone calls that we get, from students saying they’re thinking about having to stop out and maybe not continue their education, because of finances at home. Many students have lost their jobs and their unable to provide their basic needs, much less come up with the additional funding left on their student accounts,” Gillespie said. “Students are telling us this is a blessing. We are very excited about this opportunity for our students. Many students have told us that they would be unable to attend this semester if they didn’t have funding,” she added.
“I had books that still need to be paid, books that still needed to be paid and extra materials, so if you’re a student or anybody and you’re trying to be successful and you got your mind set and things just keep crashing down, that’s one mountain hill on top of another. I felt deterred and I felt discouraged,” Jeter said.
Now Jeter, who is a nursing student and soon to be graduate, is glad Tri-County Tech has provided this assistance to finish her college experience.
“I’m just grateful and thankful because when you have people like myself and others that want to continue on but like I said, life is hard and try and try and try, but sometimes it’s like you just want to give up. And so the dispersement of that, helps get me back on my feet and lets me know that hey, there’s somebody out there that’s on my side and support us as the student,” Jeter added.
To be eligible for a COVID-19 Relief grant, students must meet the following criteria:
⦁ Students must be enrolled at Tri-County Technical College for the spring 2021 semester. (The admission deadline for spring term is January 13.)
⦁ Students must also be Federal Title IV eligible and meet the following requirements:
⦁ Completed a 2020-2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with all requirements completed and demonstrated financial need
⦁ Have a high school credential
⦁ Meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements: GPA of 2.0 or higher; maintain a 67% or higher completion rate; complete your degree/diploma/certificate within 150% of the required program hours of study
⦁ Be enrolled in an eligible program of study
DACA, dual enrollment, transient, non-degree and I-BEST students are not eligible for COVID-19 Relief grants.
Tri-County Tech also said they have emergency funds set aside to help students with things beyond what has been given through the grant funding. You just have to complete an online application, or contact the financial aid offices– if you need help.