DANVILLE – More than 1,000 Danville Area Community College full- and part-time students received a surprise last week in the mail.

When the college received $472,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money, a committee led by Vice President of Student Services Stacy Ehmen and Financial Aid Director Janet Ingargiola was formed to disburse those funds to the people who need it the most, DACC’s students.

“You can’t do enough for the students,” DACC President Stephen Nacco said. “It’s heartbreaking what these students are going through right now.

“There were a dozen people on the committee,” he said. “We had a dozen people social distancing and stuffing envelopes at different locations.”

Approximately 819 checks, ranging in amount from $200 to $500, were mailed May 4 to 1,076 students.

“It was scaled on how many credits they took,” Nacco said of the payments.

Checks for $500 were cut to 697 full-time students taking a course load of 12 to more than 18 credit hours during the spring semester, $400 checks went to 184 three-quarter-time students taking 9 to 11.5 credit hours in the spring, and $200 checks were sent to 195 half-time students taking 6 to 8.5 credit hours in the spring.

Two days after the checks were mailed, Nacco received an email from a student thanking him and stating that she and her family could really use the money.

The college expects to use an equal amount of CARES money – an additional $472,000 – for expenses it incurred related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It will be used to reimburse the college for technology purchases and to keep people on staff,” Nacco said.

Additional COVID-19-related emergency funds were made available Tuesday to DACC students in need.

The Public University and Community College Student COVID-19 Emergency Fund was created through a partnership between the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, Illinois Community College Board and the Southern Illinois University Foundation.

The emergency fund was established to assist low-income students that may not be able to overcome new challenges resulting from COVID-19.

DACC received $2,500 from this fund, and DACC faculty and staff have been contacted to help identify students that need financial help.

Some examples of what the funds may be distributed for include lost job, unable to pay bills; quarantined, unable to work; single parent lost job, unable to buy essentials for children; basic healthcare needs; and technology needs.

“It’s there and it will go directly to the students and maybe buy a couple laptops,” Nacco said. “Every little bit helps.”

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