Wallace State finding ways to help students



In the past week, Wallace State Community College has announced two initiatives to assist their students who are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial support

Some students will soon receive an additional disbursement of financial support as a benefit of the federal CARES Act funding to the college. The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), which was enacted by Congress on March 27, provides for a two-part allocation to higher education institutions.

WSCC is expected to receive the first wave of the funds totaling $2,032,401 in the coming days and could begin disbursing payments to students as early as this week. The funds are intended for direct aid to students to help offset broad educational costs, which extend beyond tuition to technology, food, housing, course material, health care, and childcare.

Oneonta campus director Wesley Rakestraw said, “Some of those funds will go to students taking classes at Wallace State Oneonta. Spring students who have not already completed their FAFSA, the federal financial aid application, are encouraged to do so as soon as possible so that their eligibility for the disbursement can be determined and payment issued.”

According to a press release, more than three-quarters of WSCC students meet federal and state guidelines and are eligible for the assistance. Actual amounts will be based on full-time or part-time enrollment.

Students enrolled in a degree or certificate program in spring 2020, who were taking at least one traditional course that transitioned online as a result of the pandemic, and who are A-eligible as defined by the U.S. Department of Education are considered as eligible per federal regulations. Dual enrollment students, transient students, and classes that were audited do not qualify.

WSCC president Dr. Vicki Karolewics said, “We know that this crisis has disrupted the lives of all of our students, and made the burden to make ends meet while attending college even more challenging for many. Even a little bit helps students struggling to purchase gas or food or technology needed to be successful.”

Students enrolled for at least three credit hours will receive $150 with amounts increasing as credit hours increase. Most students will receive $250 up to $450.

The second part of the allocation, which comes later this year, will help reimburse colleges for disruption of campus operations and additional measures colleges have implemented.

Wallace State will also make funds available for students with emergency needs, to help those who need assistance paying for licensure exams and certifications, and those enrolled during summer term. This subsequent aid will be on an individual, needs-based application.

Drive in Wi-Fi

For those with urgent technology needs, Wallace State and the Wallace State Future Foundation have made laptops, cameras, headphones, and other devices available for students to borrow.

The college is also offering free drive-in Wi-Fi access to students at both Hanceville and Oneonta campuses. Access is available to students 24/7 while the institution remains closed to in-person instruction, which is at least through May 15.

Rakestraw said, “We know some of our students lack access to reliable Wi-Fi, and we hope this provides them with an alternative. We are here for our students, whether they need Wi-Fi access, to connect with us through virtual student services, or to talk to us about admissions.”

Students can access the free Wi-Fi by selecting the guest network from most parking lots near major buildings at either location. The Oneonta Academic Center is located at 101 First Ave. W., and the Oneonta Technical Center is located at 728 Second Ave, SE.

Summer registration is currently underway. Classes for the 10-week full term and five-week mini-term begin on May 20. The second mini-term begins June 25. A determination of how classes will proceed this summer will be announced later. The college is, however, prepared to start as scheduled.

Karolewics said, “We have the most resilient, adaptable students and employees. Wallace State’s goal is to serve students with excellence in whatever way possible. We are here for our students, wherever they are.”

More information can be found at www.wallacestate.edu. College-related COVID-19 updates can be found at www.wallacestate.edu/coronavirus.