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Early this month, Congress passed the $1.9 trillion stimuli and President Joe Biden signed it as of March 11, 2021. As part of that package, there are funds for colleges and students of higher education.

The “American Rescue Plan Act” provides $40 billion for colleges and universities. This relief money is also intended to benefit college students, parents, and educators.

It is an upgrade from the previous $1.9 trillion stimulus package that was passed by Congress back in December 2020. Although the GOP congress members voted against this new bill, it was still passed into law by Congressional Democrats.

In an article by CNBC, the new stimulus bill includes precisely “$39,584,570,000” for higher education. “These funds are intended to extend the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund through September 2023.” 

Schools must use at least half of their received funds to provide “emergency need-based financial aid grants to students.” Colleges and universities are required to reach out to students about the opportunity to appeal for it due to any unfortunate circumstances.

California gets its share of about $5 billion from the plan. Some universities may receive $100 million apiece, with Northridge ahead with an expected $131 million amount. 

The money is supposed to help cover necessities and the cost of higher education for students. 

California’s community colleges will receive roughly $2.2 billion in total. 

In response to the new law, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California Community Colleges Chancellor, predicts that the funds will have a positive impact on students and faculty who have gone through complications during the pandemic. “‘Emergency aid for students, resources to expand in-person teaching… will help California emerge from the pandemic stronger and better positioned to serve all students.’”

In addition to education funding, the bill sets aside roughly $5.5 billion for things such as after-school programs and education technology. 

One of the many impacts of the pandemic is the decrease in enrollment in colleges and universities across the board. According to an article by EdSource, the community colleges in our state have seen painful drops in enrollment by about, at most, “20% at some campuses.” 

Las Positas was dangerously close to that deficiency last semester. Fall 2020 enrollment at Las Positas College dropped about 14%. In comparison to Spring 2020, the enrollment dropped 5% this semester. From the annual recap, for the year 2020, the target was 17,648. Full-time enrollment was at 16,987. As a result, there was an FTES, Full-time equivalent students, a decrease of about or over 600. 

While things were going wrong during the pandemic, the bill may provide a light at the end of the tunnel. CCC Chancellor Oakley believes this package is an important step in recovery for colleges and students. 

“While this package is a step in the right direction,” says CCC Chancellor Oakley, “additional support, including direct support to the states, will lead to a more equitable economic recovery for California and the nation.” Oakley is “looking forward to working with President-elect Biden’s administration and Congress to continue advocating for more support for our students in 2021 and beyond.” 

Gibran Beydoun is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM.

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