Parking fee refunds and federal emergency grants to be distributed over next 2 weeks

Andrew Mata / el Don

The district will refund a portion of parking fees and distribute federal stimulus grants to eligible students over the next two weeks, officials said Thursday. For a full-time student on financial aid, the total could be as much as a few hundred dollars.

Emergency financial aid grants along with paper checks for a prorated amount of the spring parking fee will be mailed to students in the next two weeks. Campus has been closed to students since March 13

“We were open for a few weeks so we’ll prorate it,” said Rancho Santiago Community College District Chancellor Marvin Martinez announced during his weekly live chat with the el Don editors Thursday. “That portion that’ll go back to students. We want to get it to them within two weeks at the latest. So you’re not going to get the full amount [if the student was full-time], but you’ll get a good portion of that back.”

The district is also starting to issue emergency grants for students on financial aid through the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package enacted last month. The formula gives priority to schools with high numbers of full-time students who are Pell grant recipients.

Santa Ana College received about $5.6 million — or about $200 to spend on each student —  with about half of that earmarked for direct student aid. It’s unclear how much each student will receive. 

Some full-time students on financial aid reported receiving notification emails before the weekend that their emergency grant was on the way, but that funds were not yet deposited. 

“The colleges are working to make that happen,” Martinez said of the federal emergency grants Thursday. “I’m hoping that [the colleges] can make that happen quickly and we can, hopefully, in the next two weeks, get the grant going to students.”

Martinez said he is working with the two college foundations to secure emergency financial aid grants for the district’s undocumented and DACA students, who were left out of CARES Act funding. One in ten Santa Ana College students is undocumented. 

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“We want to be able to give the undocumented students and DACA students the same amount of money that we are giving to everybody else….because they are in need for those resources as everybody else,” Martinez said. 

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Refunds of the parking fees and grants from the federal stimulus bill will be mailed as paper checks directly to the student’s address on file. If you have moved or are no longer at the address on file, you may be asked to come to the campus and pick up the checks.

If students have a bank account on file through the financial aid office, their emergency financial aid grant money will be direct deposited similar to other disbursements. 

“I think what students need to do is that if they have moved and they no longer live where they used to live two weeks ago, then they should let us know somehow,” Martinez said. 

The school will not sell parking passes this summer since all classes will be fully online. 

“Going back again to the fall semester, if we make a decision, where 90% of the classes will still be online, we’re probably, again, not going to charge students to park on the campus,” Martinez said. 

Discussions for the fall semester and when to reopen campus are ongoing. The district is under the statewide stay-at-home order and is following Gov. Newsom’s six-point plan on when that order will end.

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