Federal funds will benefit MiraCosta students hit hard by the pandemic. Photo credit: miracosta.edu

MiraCosta College secured more than $5.5 million for students suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first installment of the money, part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed last month, should arrive in the coming weeks.

More than 4,900 MiraCosta College students, for example, receive federal Pell Grants, reserved for those who demonstrate exceptional financial need. 

Michael Dear, MiraCosta’s director of financial aid, said the funds could “literally mean the difference between dropping out of school or getting critical financial support” to help keep them in the classroom. 

Priority will likely be placed on those receiving Pell Grants, Dear said. Funds must be distributed within a year.

The recently approved CARES Act relief package provides $14.25 billion to campuses to respond to this crisis. At least half of the funding must go to students in the form of emergency cash grants to help them pay for housing, food, and other essentials.

“This relief funding will provide a critical lifeline for local students and colleges, and I am glad that most of these dollars will go to students who need it most,” said Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano. His district includes parts of North County.

In the meantime, the MiraCosta College Foundation has raised funds to support student needs.

Officials launched a fundraising campaign last month to underwrite emergency response kits. Each kit provides qualified students with a $500 credit toward a combination of food, shelter, and access to online learning tools.

During the campaign, which concluded Wednesday, the foundation provided more than 560 emergency kits and 350 computers to students. Community groups, faculty and staff made donations in increments that ranged from $10 to $5,000.

– Staff reports

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