Wallace Community College-Dothan students will soon receive $350 checks from the school.
The federal funds were allocated to colleges for emergency student financial aid as outlined in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act with the responsibility to choose how to distribute it.
Wallace’s administration decided to disperse the funds evenly to each of its approximately 4,000 students enrolled in any of its paid programs — workforce development, career technical education, academic, health science, etc.
“We felt like this would be the most equitable way to put the money in as many hands as possible,” said Ashli Wilkins, the college’s vice president and dean of institutional services and community development affairs. “Everyone is affected in some way by this.”
Spring semester students can use the funds to help cover the cost of any of their needs, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.
“Our goal with the CARES Act funding is to provide immediate assistance to all eligible students because each one has been uniquely impacted by COVID-19,” said college President Dr. Linda Young. “We are so proud of the way our students have transitioned to online instruction, and we hope this direct financial assistance will make this difficult time just a little easier.”
Cameron Horne, a Wallace student who will graduate this summer, said that learning about the money will be “a big help to his family.” He called the aid an “unexpected surprise.”
“But it doesn’t surprise me that Wallace is helping students this way,” he said. “I’m really grateful for my time at Wallace. I’ve learned a lot in my classes, but I’ve also learned how students should be treated.”
Wallace’s one-time direct payment will go to all of its students regardless of federal financial assistance eligibility, full-time or part-time status, age, or whether their tuition was paid through scholarships or financial aid. High school students taking dual-enrollment courses will receive the same amount.
“Our students are our No. 1 priority, and helping them achieve their educational goals is our mission,” said Young.
The college will begin mailing checks to students at their home address before the end of the semester, by the first week of May. Students do not have to do anything to receive the money, but will be asked via email to verify the current home address the college has on file.
Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, checks will be addressed to the students, regardless of who is the account payee.
Money distributed to public colleges and universities was allotted based on the number and percentage students who were eligible for federal Pell Grants in the most recent academic year, not including students taking only online courses. At Wallace, 75% of students were eligible for federal financial assistance.
Half of the college’s allotment is required to go directly to students. while the other half is earmarked for computers, technology improvements, software and other things that will help with distance learning.
Any amount left over after spring semester disbursements will be distributed evenly among summer semester students.
Wilkins spoke on behalf of Wallace-Dothan’s administration, thanking the legislative delegation for supporting the bill.