Illinois Central College Hears from Students Impacted by CARES Act Funds
Earlier this month, Illinois Central College received Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding in which 50 percent, or approximately $1.6 million, is required to go directly to supporting students. The college immediately began distributing to those with emergent financial needs and, to date, has awarded over $1.3 million to 1,850 students. ICC also received feedback from over 150 grateful students about how these federal funds have positively impacted their lives.
ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey said, “The federal CARES Act funds were urgently needed to help many students cover expenses related to the disruption in their lives and studies by COVID-19, including costs for course materials, technology, food, housing, and childcare. It’s been heartwarming to hear the many stories of how these funds have supported our students with the greatest needs, allowing them to continue their education and move forward.”
For example, one student found herself without a job and was struggling to care for her youngest child while supporting her older son’s third-grade online learning. “I didn’t own a computer or have internet access, the libraries were closed, and food was beginning to get low,” she said. “With ICC’s help, I was able to put food on the table, get a laptop and pay for internet to finish all of my classes, and my son had the ability to pass third grade with the internet access and my new laptop.”
Another student shared, “Being a single dad is difficult, and this financial assistance helped me so much by lifting some added stressors. I was able to maintain good grades and finish the semester strong. Rest assured; I will not be giving up.” He also said he’s been able to get groceries for his family, continue paying his bills and keep his internet access, purchase printer ink for papers, and other items to assist him in moving forward.
ICC Educational Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Holmes is leading the ICC team in the distribution of CARES Act funds. “Every day we’re talking to and triaging students with needs. Many of these students would have been forced to drop out if they hadn’t received this financial help,” said Holmes. “The ICC Educational Foundation has been fortunate to have strong community support, as well, which has allowed us to support students who do not meet the 13 verification points of the CARES Act.”
In another example, a 43-year-old ICC student was having a tough time managing the current challenges, and the funding she received provided her the ability to keep pursuing her dreams. Now, she is just three classes shy of completing her degree. She said, “This experience has left me feeling eternally grateful. ICC continues to change my life for the better, inspire me, and push me to be a better version of myself with every passing semester.”
Nearly 80 percent of ICC students work while attending classes, and many have experienced reduced work hours or job loss. This loss of income impacts students’ educational journeys and their progress toward a degree or certificate. However, the students who received CARES Act funding now have the financial support needed to continue pursuing a quality education to create a better future.