Campus Plan for Use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grants to Students

Program Name: We Care Fund

Rockland Community College has created the We Care Fund to support its students during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and mitigate disruption to their studies. Funding is available through the federal CARES Act.

Student Eligibility

Eligible RCC students include those who are matriculated in a degree or certificate program at the College during the award period, have filed a 2019/20 or 2020/21 FAFSA, and are deemed to be potentially eligible for federal student aid. Students who have not previously completed a FAFSA are encouraged to immediately file both award year FAFSA applications.

Allowable Costs

Students must self-identify expenses they incurred that were related to the disruption of campus operations occurring from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Students will be asked to provide requested amounts in the following areas:

  • food
  • housing
  • utilities
  • course materials
  • technology
  • health care
  • child care

Award Range

Based upon the student’s request for funding, the College will make an initial We Care Fund award equal to the student’s requested amount up to $1,000 for Pell-eligible applicants and up to $500 for non-Pell-eligible applicants. After the priority deadline, available funding will be re-assessed and additional supplemental awards may be made in a priority fashion as outlined in the Methodology for Awarding section.

The maximum award per student is $6,195.

Methodology for Awarding

The College was awarded $1,813,316 in CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief funding. A Priority Deadline for Spring 2020 is established to assist with application review and to provide immediate funding to needy students.

Award Period:

  • Spring 2020, Priority Deadline is June 26, 2020: $1,813,316 available
  • If funding remains available beyond the Spring 2020 term, the following priority deadlines will be used to assist with the application process: Summer 2020, Priority Deadline is August 11, 2020
    Fall 2020, Priority Deadline is October 2, 2020

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through the established priority deadlines. To be initially eligible, an applicant must meet the general eligibility guidelines established in Section 484 of the Higher Education Act. Pell-eligible applicants (in 2019/20, EFC’s from 0 – 5576) will be labeled as Priority 1 candidates. Non-Pell-eligible applicants (in 2019/20, EFC’s greater than 5576) will be labeled as Priority 2 candidates. Through RCC’s priority deadline, both Priority 1 and Priority 2 applicants will be reviewed on a weekly basis and awarded. Pell-eligible applicants will be awarded We Care Funds with their requested amount up to $1,000. Non-Pell-eligible students will be funded through the priority deadline with their requested amount up to $500.

After the priority deadline, all applications will be prioritized based upon their date of application and the student’s estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFC). On a weekly basis, applications will be reviewed and additional awards made in priority fashion. Priority 1 candidates will receive first consideration on a first-come, first-served basis and ranked in order of ascending EFC. Award amounts for Priority 1 applicants will remain at $1,000. On a weekly basis, if funding remains after Priority 1 applicants have been awarded, Priority 2 applicants will be reviewed. Priority 2 applicants will also receive consideration on a first-come, first served basis and ranked in order of ascending EFC. Awards amounts for Priority 2 applicants will remain at $500.

If funding remains after all initial awards are made, applications previously acted upon will be prioritized based upon EFC and date of application and supplemental awards will be made until all funds are depleted.

Spring 2020 update: After initial awards were distributed, supplemental awards were made to all eligible applicants. Priority 1 applicants received additional funding up to $3,000 and Priority 2 applicants received additional funding up to $2,000.

Application Process

Students impacted by COVID-19 will make their requests known to the College by completing an online application. The College will review all requests on a rolling basis and provide initial awards on a weekly basis. Awards will be posted and paid through the student’s account, but will be unaffected by any outstanding charges. That is, 100% of all We Care Fund awards will go directly to students.

Data and Anticipated Outcomes


  • Total Spring 2020 Headcount = 5,012
  • Federal aid recipients in Spring 2020 (includes Pell recipients) = 1,924
  • Pell recipients (in 2019/20, EFC’s from 0 – 5576) in Spring 2020 = 1,573
  • Total non-Pell-eligible federal aid recipients (in 2019/20, EFC’s greater than 5576) = 1,924 – 1,573 = 351


  • Estimated federal aid eligible applicants that are not current recipients (2019/20 FAFSA filers who meet federal general eligibility standards but are not current federal aid recipients) = 582
  • Estimated non-Pell-eligible applicants = 351 + 582 = 933
  • Estimated percentage of RCC population currently eligible for We Care Funds
    = (1924 + 582) / 5012 = 50%
  • Estimated number of students who will file a FAFSA to receive We Care Funds and be deemed federal aid eligible; this group will likely be non-Pell-eligible students; considering approximately 20% of students who have not previously filed a FAFSA will do so and be federally aid eligible = 2,506 x 20% = 500
  • Expected number of eligible We Care Fund applications
    • 2/3 of our current Pell-eligible recipients = 1,573 x 66% = 1,038
      • Estimated We Care Funds = 1,038 x $1,000/award = $1,038,000
    • 2/3 of our non-Pell-eligible federal aid applicants = 933 x 66% = 616
      • Estimated We Care Funds = 616 x $500/award = $308,000
    • additional late-filing FAFSA applicants = 500
      • Estimated We Care Funds = 500 x $500/award = $250,000
  • Total Spring 2020 Estimated Initial We Care Fund Awards = $1,596,000
  • Total Spring 2020 Estimated Supplemental We Care Fund Awards = $217,316

Campus Committee

The following staff developed the We Care Fund 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. Helen Castellanos Brewer, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
  • Dr. Dan Dobell, Interim Chief Financial Officer
  • Debra Bouabidi, Executive Director of Educational Planning
  • Madelene Aponte, Director of Financial Aid
  • Brian McGuirk, Bursar

Contact Information for Students

For more information, students may contact [email protected] or 845-574-4282. More information is available at

Revised: 7/28/2020