(LAKE WORTH, Fla. – May 1, 2020) Starting today, Palm Beach State College will begin accepting applications and distributing more than $9.4 million in emergency cash grants directly to students whose lives and education have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants are from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for students to use for Covid-19 related expenses such as course materials and technology, food, housing, health care and childcare. For the first round of $500 grants, PBSC identified 13,500 Title IV-eligible students currently enrolled this semester. That population includes those who are eligible for Pell grants, Work-Study, subsidized and unsubsidized student loans and other federal financial aid programs. The students will receive an email and text message May 1 with an application and instructions for applying for the funds.

“We’re working as fast as we can to get these funds into the hands of our students, who are committed to completing their education despite the pandemic and the challenges it has caused,’’ said Eddie Viera, PBSC Financial Aid director, who has been working with a team at the College to develop the distribution plan.

In a second round of distributions, the College also will contact via email 9,000 other currently enrolled students who completed a Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FAFSA) and qualified only for a federal student loan but did not move forward with the process. Viera said they will determine whether students in that population meet all federal qualifications for the funds.

While these grants are $500, Viera said students facing major challenges and have greater financial needs might qualify for other financial aid to help keep them in school and on track to graduating.  “Our goal is help students explore all options to complete their educational goals,’’ Viera said.

The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary education students and institutions. It requires colleges and universities to collectively use $6.28 billion for the cash grants to students.

Institutions can use the second half of their allocation to “cover costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. PBSC received a total of   $18,933,435. The College is working on plans for use of the remaining institutional funds.

Serving 49,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, providing bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State offers more than 130 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves.

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