SBCC Uses Federal Stimulus Funds to Erase Student Debt and Offer Direct Support

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (December 21, 2021) – Since last August, approximately 1,800 Santa Barbara City College students have received a form of debt relief, and an opportunity to pursue and complete their educational goals, thanks to SBCC’s Fresh Start Initiative and the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). 

HEERF funds were allocated to institutions to support students with immediate needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. One way that SBCC met those needs was by creating the Fresh Start Initiative, allocating $1 million to go directly to students with outstanding balances. Through the initiative, students enrolled in Spring 2020 through Spring 2021 terms impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were provided with funds to pay off their entire outstanding balance. In addition, students who left SBCC prior to the pandemic who are attempting to re-enroll – and find themselves challenged by COVID-19 related circumstances and restricted from registration due to a pre-pandemic balance – were also provided with Fresh Start monies.

According to SBCC’s Student Finance Manager Nicole Hubert, “The responses we received from our students were filled with hope and gratitude for how we’ve provided access to their future opportunities by paying off their balances. It was a unique and incredible experience for my staff and I to provide a fresh start to our students.”

HEERF grants were part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress in March 2020. That bill allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that money, approximately $14 billion was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education for HEERF.

SBCC has also provided direct relief to students in the form of emergency grants using these CARES/HEERF funds. Since the start of the pandemic, more than $8 million has been distributed to nearly 5,000 students, including a round of grants awarded on December 3 to nearly 2,200 students. Students will have the opportunity to apply for another round of grants early in the spring semester that starts January 10. The latest information about the grants can be found here.

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