Foundation to furnish one-time scholarship

By Andrew Weedon, Advocate Staff

An emergency fund, intended for students in need of immediate financial assistance, has recently become available with the help of the Contra Costa College Foundation.

The Wrap-around fund, which went live Tuesday, August 22, works by using money donated to the CCC Foundation to provide a one-time scholarship of up to $500.

Financial Aid Supervisor Monica Rodriguez said the fund is intended to wrap around existing financial aid, like scholarships and loans and fill the gaps left by those options.

This money can be used for anything from books, living expenses and even unexpected life events.

While the Foundation doesn’t require you to pay back any of the money, they do ask that you write a thank you letter and tell how this fund has helped you as a student.

The college lacked this type of program until now, contributing to a higher number of students dropping out due to financial reasons.

Qualifying students must be enrolled in at least 6 units and have a faculty member to vouch for their need.

After meeting these minimal requirements, the student will be invited to fill out a very short application online.

The application, said to take about 20 to 30 minutes, asks the students some basic questions as well as a reason for requesting the money. With this information, the financial aid office will then decide if the student is eligible.

Students accepted by the fund will receive a check in the requested amount in 7 to 10 business days.

Development Officer Sara Marcellino said she has been working since last year with other college staff to get this program started.

With such a program available, there is of course a concern that students could take advantage of it.

That is where the application comes in.

By asking students why they want this money, the financial aid office will be able to deny those who intend to abuse the system.

Much of the work that has been done in the last year is perfecting the application screening process to prevent such abuse.

“It will be a good safety net for those who really need help,” Chris Miller, undecided major, said. “It will be helpful if it is well controlled by a gatekeeper.”

While the fund is available to any student at any time of the year, it will only be available if the CCC Foundation can continue to provide money from donations.

This shouldn’t be a problem because the Foundation already supports a large amount of scholarships.

Despite creation of the program, Marcellino says that regular scholarships are still the main focus of the foundation above all other financial aid.

Since this is such a new program there are no stats on how it is helping students, however, Marcellino expects it to help a number of students with financial difficulties.

While no applications have been filed, it is expected that there will be a surge in the number of applications at the beginning of the semester before leveling out as the program continues.