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Southwestern College offers students up to $2,500 in grant money

Southwestern College in the South Bay remains mostly virtual with classes through the end of February. The College is also offering eligible students up to 25-hundred dollars in grant money to pay for school. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez brings us that story.

Southwestern College is offering eligible students grant money to stay enrolled or consider returning to school. The college will pay up to $2,500 to cover tuition and expenses. The grants are being funded by federal COVID-19 relief to help students deal with the consequences of the pandemic like a lost job or the death of a relative.

“The financial element of a student considering whether or not to go back to college is critical,” said Southwestern College President Dr. Mark Sanchez. He continued, “We felt that by providing the financial support we would be able to alleviate some of the stressors in their decision making.”

Annabelle Ramos, 20, works at the Southwestern College bookstore to help pay for expenses. She’s been a student at the Chula Vista campus since before the COVID-19 shutdown. She has already earned a Business Administration Associate Degree for Transfer to a four-year university. But Ramos has bigger aspirations to become a professional singer and songwriter someday. She is committed to saving money and preparing for her dream. She said, “It was the primary thought on my mind ever since I started school. It impacted how well I was able to focus on my classes, just because I was always preoccupied with that financial aspect.”

Students must apply for the financial help with the deadline for applications coming Friday, February 11th.

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The Southwestern grant program provides up to $2,500 for first-time college students and students who missed the fall 2021 semester. Current students who were enrolled in fall 2021 will also be eligible for up to $1,500 in grants.

The initiative awards grants based on the number of units students are enrolled in for the spring semester. The money givens range from $500 for students enrolled in one to five units, $1,250 for students enrolled in six to 11 units, and $2,500 for students enrolled full-time in 12 units or more.

Students enrolled in non-credit courses are also eligible to receive the grants. Awards are only given to California residents or undocumented AB 540 students who graduated from California high schools.

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Matthew Bowler
Kevin Stevens, 19, is a sophomore student at Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA, February 7, 2022

The grants are meant to supplement efforts to help students stay in school and remove any financial barriers.

Kevin Stevens, 19, is a Southwestern sophomore already receiving a state grant from the PROMISE program but is still eligible for the federal money. He told KPBS News, “It’s very nice to know you have a lot of financial burdens lifted off your hands, especially if you’re someone who pays rent or someone just doing a part-time job and not making enough money to support yourself.”

The first disbursements of the grant money will begin going to students on Valentine’s Day.