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Illinois Central College to Begin Distributing CARES Act Funds

Illinois Central College received their Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for students and is beginning to distribute funds to students. Before the CARES Act passed, ICC began assessing student needs and planning for the distribution of these federal funds. The college expects to complete the distribution of$1.6 million to over 2,300 students next week.

Illinois Central College has adjusted rapidly to the evolving environment caused by COVID-19. Faculty converted over 1,500 courses to an online learning environment within a two-week timespan. The college continues to support students with the upmost care through the transition to a virtual learning institution. Over 79 percent of Illinois Central College students work while attending classes. Many of these students have recently experienced reduced work hours or job loss. The loss of income impacts students’ educational journeys, possibly derailing their progress to a degree and a better future.

In anticipation of the CARES Act funds, ICC assembled a team at the end of March to reach out to students, determine their needs and prepare for fund distribution. The college sent an email to over 5,000 students enrolled in the spring semester with six credit hours or more, informing them of the possibility of upcoming federal funding.

“Supporting our students and removing barriers so they can continue receiving a quality education is our top priority. We have been diligent in our planning, so those who responded to our financial need survey will have almost immediate access to the CARES Act funds,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “These funds are urgently needed to help students cover expenses related to the disruption in their lives and studies due to COVID-19, including costs for course materials, technology, food, housing, and childcare. These funds support our students in continuing their education and moving forward during this challenging time.”

ICC received over 1,000 responses from students with comments ranging from “This money will help me buy groceries, since I just lost my job,” to “I don’t know how I’m going to afford internet service to complete my courses online.” The college gathered all responses, began sorting the needs identified by students and responding with available support prior to receiving this funding.

Illinois Central College will receive approximately $3.8 million from the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It provides nearly $14 billion to higher education institutions to support the incurred cost of shifting classes online and for grants to students with emergent needs.  The act stipulates 50 percent of the funds each school receives must directly support students.