Wallet with money

Orange Coast College’s Financial Aid office plans to reach out to students soon via email in an effort to provide information on accessing millions of dollars in aid distributed through new federal grants.

The college was awarded $9.1 million in emergency federal grants last month and at least $4.5 million of it must be used for emergency financial aid grants to assist students who have been affected by COVID-19. 

To be eligible for the funds students will be required to fill out a FAFSA application for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Students who are enrolled full-time will be eligible for an emergency grant of $500. Students with six units or more who have a $0 Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) will be eligible for an enhanced emergency grant of between $750- $1,000 (depending on the number of units enrolled,)” said Rozanne Cappocia-White, dean of Enrollment Services.

She added that students with an Estimated Family Contribution of $0 are considered to have the highest need because they have the fewest resources to help them pursue their education. Many of them are also working while attending school and likely have been impacted the most by COVID-19 and the campus move to remote education.

The financial aid grant monies will be distributed via the BankMobile cards that are currently in use through the financial aid system.

Students who do not yet have a FAFSA on file will receive communication from the financial aid office with additional information and instructions.

Due to federal requirements, certain students, including undocumented students, do not qualify for the aid. To fill in those gaps Orange Coast College has set up a special fund through OCC Cares, which has raised about  $15,300 from donors including employees and retirees of the college, alumni and community members.

Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, said students will also need to submit applications for these funds and will be awarded financial aid money if they qualify.

“There’s going to be some students that don’t qualify for different reasons — number of units they’ve taken or they’ve used up all of their financial aid or there’s some special circumstances. So the foundation is sort of the last resort money,” Bennett said.

The grant application can be found at the top of the OCC Cares web page within the OCC website.

Officials said that in addition to granting the funds, committee members evaluating applications will also help connect students with available resources such as food banks, rental assistance, health and wellness, family care and essential resources, as well as with state-funded programs such as unemployment insurance and MediCal.

For more information on how to apply or to contribute to the fund please visit:  www.orangecoastcollege.edu/student_services/student-equity/occ-cares

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