SouthArk distributes CARES Act funding, $535,000 given to students impacted by COVID-19

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (05/12/20) — South Arkansas Community College has distributed $535,000 to its students as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

SouthArk began distributing funds to students last Thursday. More than 300 qualifying students have received $450 dollars in this first round of disbursement.

“We’re really proud to say that we were one of the first colleges to distribute those funds,” President of SouthArk, Dr. Bentley Wallace said.

Dr. Wallace attributed the quickness of the distribution to hard work of the administration. They wanted to get students the aid as quickly as they could once they received it from the Department of Education.

When the money hit the college’s bank account, checks were immediately cut for qualifying students.

“Different colleges are approaching it in different ways with adding some different layers of criteria. We chose not to do that,” he said. “We wanted to be as nimble as possible.”

This relief was much needed for some students as they too were put in a financial crisis.

“I have not had a job, so my mom is paying my phone bill and paying for my gas, and I hate for her to do that,” SouthArk student, Gracie Ragan said. “So, it will help me a lot.”

SouthArk is among thousands of colleges that has had to shift to a fully-online learning model. It’s been quite the transition for students and the funding they’ve received is helping them continue learning from home.

“The CARES Act stimulus check will ensure that I can keep internet access in my home, ink and paper for my printer and my computer up and running,” Jessica Russell said.

Markeveon Strickland is a sophomore student at SouthArk and didn’t receive a stimulus check because his parents claimed him as a dependent on their federal taxes.

Strickland is also appreciative of the funds. He bragged on the quickness from SouthArk, saying it’s just one more way the college continues to put students first.

“That was the family type thing to do,” Strickland said. “At South Ark, they treat you like a family and everyone knows so I feel like.”

Qualifying students were considered based on their eligibility to apply for federal financial aid. They also had to be enrolled in six credit hours as of March 12 and couldn’t be fully enrolled in online classes.

According to the president, this is only the first round of CARES Act checks to SouthArk students. Further disbursement is coming, although a timetable has not been set yet.

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