TRAVERSE CITY — Moving rapidly to support students harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, Northwestern Michigan College in three weeks distributed $142,800 in federal emergency relief funding and supplemented it with $43,000 in scholarship funds.
In late April, NMC received $1 million in federal funds designated for emergency student relief through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which must be spent by May 2021. NMC supplemented the federal money with $250,000 in scholarship dollars. Through May 8, 305 students had received an average of $608 each in combined federal and community-supported scholarship dollars.
Emergency relief funding has been awarded to 97 percent of applicants. Disbursements were made April 24, May 1 and May 8. Some students commented it was the first income they had received since mid-March, when Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order forced many businesses to close.
“The emergency aid from NMC came just in time,” said visual communications student Randi Upton, 33. Both she and her partner were laid off from their jobs in mid-March. Despite applying immediately, delays in unemployment benefits left their household of three, including Upton’s six-year-old son, without income for several weeks.
They have also taken advantage of other NMC services.
“I appreciate the help from the NMC food pantry and their efforts to give us food that is tasty and fun, like baked goods and fresh fruit. I am happy to be part of a college community that takes care of us,” said Upton, who also has received scholarships for student veterans.
“Seeing NMC reach out and do all they can to help has amazed me and has made me all that much more grateful to be a student here,” agreed student Kathryn Hockin, 21.
A 2019 culinary graduate, Hockin is now working towards her baking certificate and bachelor’s degree in business and lives with her husband and fellow student in an NMC apartment. She lost her job March 16 and her husband’s employer shut down before the month was out. Even though both worked, they were initially denied unemployment since they were full-time students. They have not received stimulus checks, either, and were draining their savings to cover monthly bills.
“I would like to reach out and give a huge ‘thank you’ to all that took part in deciding on this aid for me and my family. It’s such a huge help right now,” said psychology student Brandee Sasser-Drone, 35.
A mother of two, Sasser-Drone said she has been pursuing her degree for 10 years. This semester she and her wife have the added challenges of homeschooling and unsteady employment.
“I’ve fought my way here, and I never stopped trying. I’ve not had one semester that wasn’t a challenge for me due to something happening in my personal life,” she said. “This opportunity came at such a critical time for us and we’re so very grateful.”
Funds are available for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care, while scholarship dollars can be used to cover tuition. Aid amounts are based on type of emergency financial need, prior known financial need, enrollment level, and availability of funds. Students can learn more here and apply for emergency funds online here.
RELEASE DATE: MAY 11, 2020
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Executive Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications