Dallas College News Update

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Financial assistance helped Baylee Ratcliff stay in college despite the challenges of the pandemic.
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Contact: Debra Dennis; ddennis@dcccd.edu​

For immediate release — Jan. 27, 2021

(DALLAS) — Baylee Ratcliff has quite the balancing act. As a mother, worker and student, the pandemic and a lack of finances threatened to upend her family life.

But Ratcliff, who is pursuing a career in real estate, fought back. She reached out to Dallas College, where she is enrolled, and was awarded emergency funds that helped her buy a much-needed computer and also pay for housing and child care for her toddler.

“I really didn’t want to drop out,” said Ratcliff, a leasing agent for an apartment complex.

“I got my laptop so I didn’t have to drop my class because that would have put me behind. This has honestly helped with stress. I don’t do well with stress. I had started to freak out,” she said. “With my hours cut and my child in day care, I was wondering how I would make it. But I was able to stay on track. It’s so cool that Dallas College was able to help with that.”

The ongoing pandemic crisis has gripped many Dallas College students like Ratcliff. In fact, financial struggles have threatened to keep some students from enrolling or have forced them to drop out altogether.

With an infusion of federal funds, however, Dallas College has stepped in to help students navigate the unexpected hardship brought on by COVID-19 and push aside potential stumbling blocks facing the 45,000 Dallas College students who live at or below the poverty level.

Helping Students Meet Basic Needs

Dallas College was awarded $9.7 million last April by the U.S. Department of Education through the Coronavirus Aid and Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency aid to students. The money helps students meet financial challenges as they navigate the unexpected hardship brought on by the pandemic.

So far, $6.7 million in aid has been awarded by Dallas College, with the largest allocations going to address food insecurity ($937,500) and basic housing needs ($1,632,750). The median age for applicants is 24, according to data compiled by Dallas College. Students who sought aid were overwhelmed by a myriad of problems that threatened to disrupt their education.

In addition to computers, Dallas College has also provided financial assistance for housing costs, rental assistance, food, child care, transportation and other basic needs.

Helping students meet basic needs means they have a much better chance of staying enrolled, according to Dr. Pyeper Wilkins, vice chancellor of workforce and advancement.

“We’re trying to communicate to students that we care about their success as a whole and that we know all of these pieces of support are essential. If we help students get through emergency situations and meet their basic needs, they have a much better chance of staying enrolled and completing their educational journey,” said Dr. Pyeper Wilkins, vice chancellor of workforce and advancement for Dallas College. “We continue to look for innovative ways and additional financial resources to support our students.”

Dallas College officials learned earlier this month that they would be receiving an additional $9.7 million in emergency aid for students from the recently approved Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. Early guidance suggests that these funds will have fewer restrictions and that more students will be eligible for them.

The Dallas College Foundation has also been robust in supporting students who do not qualify for CARES funds. The foundation is providing funds and issuing grocery gift cards to help students address school needs, food insecurity and other issues. The food cards are vital in helping students remain enrolled and, in some cases, graduate. For instance, gift card donations helped 407 students remain enrolled from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020.

“We know that for many of our students, receiving emergency aid can make all the difference,” said Dr. Joe May, chancellor of Dallas College. “We know that we need to create a culture of caring that meets our students where they are. Our mission is to prepare students from all walks of life to become productive and responsible citizens.”

Visit our website for more information about student emergency aid at Dallas College​.

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