Students packed up their dorm rooms and headed home in May after the college transitioned to remote learning for the remainder of the semester in March.
One student, however, was afraid of going home and possibly spreading COVID to his grandparents that he lives with. Because of his grandparents’ high-risk status, the school paid for him to stay in a hotel room over the summer to avoid any spread of COVID.
Students like this, however, have no more money from the school to look forward to.
Franklin College received more than a million dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. Nearly $536,000 of this money was required to go directly to students. 752 students received aid from this fund, and the full amount of the money was disbursed.
Vinny-Vincent Dunn, director of financial aid, said the college would greatly benefit from extra money from the government, but doesn’t expect any in the near future.
“I still have students that are reaching out to me, they received an initial allotment of the funding, but they’re still hurting,” he said. “I would say that part of the discussion in both the House and the Senate right now, there is intention of a second round of student relief. It’s just that nothing has come to fruition because the two can’t agree.”
Dunn said students like the one who stayed in the hotel room over the summer, would benefit greatly from further aid, especially as the pandemic is still ongoing, forcing the college to return to online instruction after Thanksgiving.
Senior Amanda Meek was another of the 752 students who received aid during the spring semester. Her finances became hard to manage once her boyfriend was laid off due to the pandemic.
However, with some financial aid through the CARES Act money, Meek and her boyfriend were able to pay some bills and buy groceries for the next couple weeks to survive.
“My boyfriend and I live on our own and he was laid off because of COVID and it made our finances very difficult,” Meek said. “The additional aid allowed us to pay some bills and buy some food. Money was very tight at that time, especially in the spring, so it definitely helped.”
Although the student aid is used up now, there is still a remaining portion of the money from the CARES Act not directed to students. This money will go toward other pandemic-related expenses for the college.
Joe Hornett, vice president and chief financial officer, has been working with that other $535,937 that went towards the college, and he made sure to budget leftover money for what’s to come as cases increase in the winter months.
Of the nearly $536,000, not directly given to students, $152,256 has been spent so far. All of that money has been directed into two main categories: Campus safety and operations, and purchasing, leasing or renting additional equipment.
Of the money, $134,124 has gone to campus safety and operations, including upgrading the Wi-Fi, masks for staff and students, Plexiglass dividers, sanitation stations, and other building supplies such as hand sanitizer and cleaning products. Then, $23,000 was spent on distributing flu vaccinations to students and faculty.
Hornett said the college is saving the remaining portion of money in case there are further expenses as the pandemic continues.
“We know that the pandemic is getting worse day by day, and so we’re still anticipating other things were going to need to get through the next semester,” Hornett said. “We’re anticipating a number of things, as well as some surprises because there has been plenty of those as we’ve gone through this.”