Program Name: We Care 3 Fund
Rockland Community College has created the We Care 3 Fund to support its students during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and mitigate disruption to their studies. Funding is available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP).
Eligible RCC students include two categories:
- Are currently attending including the academic terms Summer 2021 and Fall 2021, or
- Have ceased enrollment at RCC for any reason and at any point since the beginning of the national emergency, March 13, 2020.
In the federal government’s third round of funding, all student types including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, asylum seekers, international students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, other DREAMers, and similar undocumented students are eligible for HEERF grants. Non-degree, non-matriculated, and dual enrollment students may also qualify for We Care 3 Funds. Students are eligible for HEERF grants regardless of whether the student completed a FAFSA or is eligible for Title IV federal student aid.
ARP We Care 3 Funds are for expenses related to any component of the student’s cost of attendance or any emergency costs that arose due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible expenses include tuition, fees, housing, food, utilities, books, course materials, technology, health care, and child care.
Prioritizing for Exceptional Need
Block Grants for FAFSA Filers with Eligible EFC’s
ARP requires that institutions prioritize awarding to students with exceptional need. As noted in Chart 1, all students enrolled in Fall 2021 with valid, eligible Expected Family Contribution (EFC) indices between 0 and 14,615 will receive an automatic, standard We Care 3 Fund award based upon their EFC and their enrollment status. One half (50%) of the ARP HEERF 3 funding set aside for Fall 2021, or $2,323,511, will be allocated to students with EFC’s in the noted range. The amounts shown in Chart 1 are estimates; final awards will be determined after Fall 2021 enrollment has been confirmed.
Chart 1. Estimated Block Awards to Fall 2021 FAFSA Filers with EFC’s Between 0 and 14,615
0 – 2,923
2,924 – 5,846
5,847 – 8,769
8,770 – 11,692
11,693 – 14,615
A similar set of Block Awards will be distributed in Spring 2022 and one half of the funds set aside for Spring 2022, or $774,504, will be allocated to students with EFC’s in the noted range.
Discretionary Awards for All Eligible Students
Students with EFCs that fall out of the eligible range for Block Grants, students who did not complete a FAFSA, and students who are not eligible to apply for federal aid may apply for We Care 3 Funds through an application on the RCC website. Any student receiving a Block Grant may also apply for additional assistance using the RCC online application.
Methodology for Awarding Discretionary Awards
RCC will use priority points within its We Care 3 Funds application to prioritize and customize awards to students with extraordinary financial circumstances.
Each eligible applicant will have a base award of $500; additional $400 increments will be added to the base award for each priority point calculated in the student’s application.
The application has seven questions soliciting information regarding financial need. Answering “Yes” to a question earns one priority point:
- Is the student or an immediate family member receiving any federal or state means-tested benefit, need-based aid, emergency COVID assistance, or unemployment compensation? Examples include SSI, SNAP, TANF, WIC, Medicaid, free/reduced lunches, subsidized housing, unemployment compensation, and COVID emergency funding.
- Did the student receive 2019/20 or 2020/21 federal or state financial aid, including student loans?
- Is the student financially supporting children under the age of 18 who live in their home?
- Does the student have outstanding tuition and fees owed to the College?
- Is the student having difficulty or did the student have difficulty purchasing books or technology needed for remote instruction, including a PC, laptop or WIFI service?
- Has the student experienced housing or food insecurity in the last year?
- Is the student an International Student who has faced financial difficulties in the last year?
Students completing the online application for Discretionary Awards will be awarded in a first-come, first-served manner until allocated funds are fully expended.
We Care 3 Funds Block Grant amounts for Fall 2021 are estimated to be between $487.50 and $1,462.50. Fall 2021 Discretionary Awards range from $500 to $3,300. The maximum award, for a student who receives both the Block Grant and the Discretionary Award is estimated to be $4,762.50. It is anticipated that Spring 2022 award ranges will be similar.
The College was awarded $6,196,028 in ARP Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds. The College will reserve $4,647,021 (75%) for awards in the Fall 2021 semester. As noted, 50% of the Fall 2021 amount will awarded via the Block Grants and 50% will be awarded via an application process and are labeled Discretionary Awards. The remaining $1,549,007 of ARP funding (25%) will be awarded in the Spring 2022 semester. 50% of the Spring 2022 amount, or $774,504 will be award via the Block Grants and $774,504 will be awarded via an application process and are labeled Discretionary Awards.
Eligible students may make their requests known to the College by completing an online application. The College will review all requests on a rolling basis and provide awards on a first-come, first-served basis until Discretionary APR We Care 3 Funds are fully expended. Awards will be posted and paid through the student’s account and will be directed to the student or the student account based upon the student’s noted desire via the opt-in process.
Opt-In Process to Direct Award to Student Account
As allowed under ARP, students may instruct the College to direct their We Care 3 Fund award to their student account to assist with paying their outstanding tuition and fees. The opt-in process is contained within the We Care 3 Fund application.
If a student opts-in and the amount of their We Care 3 Fund award exceeds their outstanding balance, the credit balance created on the student account will be refunded to the student.
Data and Anticipated Outcomes
- Total Anticipated Fall 2021 Headcount = 6,000
- Estimated number who will apply for Fall 2021 Discretionary Awards under We Care 3 Funds = 600 (10%)
- Total Spring 2021 Headcount (as of March 7, 2021) = 5,172
- Estimated number who will apply for Fall 2021 Discretionary Awards under We Care 3 Funds = 517 (10%)
- Total Summer 2021 Headcount (as of July 7, 2021) = 1,539
- Estimated number who will apply for Fall 2021 Discretionary Awards under We Care 3 Funds = 77 (5%)
- Total number of Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020 and Wintersession 2021 stop-outs with outstanding A/R (as of June 21, 2021) = 1,507
- Estimated number who will apply for Fall 2021 Discretionary Awards under We Care 3 Funds = 377 (25%)
- Total estimated number of Fall 2021 Discretionary We Care 3 Fund awards = 600 + 517 + 77 + 377 = 1,571
- Average estimated Fall 2021 Discretionary Award = $1,479 ($2,323,511/1,571)
The following staff developed the We Care 3 Fund awarding philosophy based upon guidance received by the Department of Education, the State University of New York (SUNY), and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
Dr. Bart Grachan, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Dr. Dan Dobell, Chief Financial Officer
Debra Bouabidi, Executive Director of Educational Planning
Madelene Aponte, Director of Financial Aid
Renee Salvesen, Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Brian McGuirk, Bursar