Austin Community College District (ACC) continues its work to make college something everyone can afford and pursue. To date, the college has distributed more than $55 million to over 15,500 students through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).
Applications will open soon for students enrolled in classes this spring. Anyone impacted financially by the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) can apply for money to help cover the costs of college and life.
“This pandemic continues to impact our communities, and ACC wants to do what it can to empower those affected,” says Dr. Monique Umphrey, ACC provost and executive vice chancellor of Academic & Student Affairs. “Our goal is to help students stay on track and complete their college program without the burden of financial strain. I am so proud of the work happening at ACC to make sure those most impacted get the help they need to gain access to higher education and change their lives. We continue to take a thoughtful and dedicated approach to provide that lifeline our community needs.”
Since the start of the pandemic, ACC has received a total of more than $109 million in HEERF grants. All of these funds have gone either directly to students or to college initiatives and programs designed to mitigate the financial strains caused by COVID-19.
Highlights of support at ACC include:
- Money for Life Expenses: Funds distributed directly to students extend beyond tuition and fees. Dollars to help ACC students cover living expenses, including food, housing, healthcare, and child care.
- More Flexible Class Options: ACC expanded its short semester options and developed more online and hybrid course options to provide students with more flexibility.
- Technology Support: ACC purchased thousands of iPads and notebook computers to loan to students each semester so that they wouldn’t have to purchase one on their own. This has become increasingly important as more students register for online and hybrid classes.
- 24-7 Helpline: The college purchased and implemented new software programs to enhance helpline support during peak periods for students and faculty.
- Wi-Fi Access: ACC installed Wi-Fi boosters to expand internet service on campuses districtwide for students and employees who didn’t have reliable service at home.
- Debt Relief: The college covered small debts and outstanding balances for more than 4,600 students who owed less than $1,000 for things such as books and course fees — wiping their balance to $0.
- High-Touch Outreach: Staff at the college partnered with other community organizations to call, text, and email students directly to inform them of additional support opportunities and help guide them through the application process.
- Expanding Career Scholars: ACC Career Scholars program –– which provides up to $5,000 in tuition and fees, approximately the entire cost of an associate degree at ACC –– was doubled in size to accept more than 500 students.
- Faculty Training: The college created new programs including training sessions, webinars, support tips, and a Faculty Teaching Toolbox to support faculty and staff in the transition to remote working, teaching, and learning environments.
This semester, ACC will continue this work and is looking to provide additional support in summer and fall including ongoing debt relief, expand scholarship opportunities, student service opportunities, and more.
More information about new opportunities will be shared as details are made available.
In the meantime, ACC encourages all students who need financial support to apply for HEERF funding. To learn more and explore all financial aid options, visit austincc.edu/payforcollege.