NORFOLK, Neb. – A majority of students attending Northeast Community College this fall will receive a large financial boost from the institution.
College officials have announced several new financial aid resources to assist students, including grant aid from the federal government, the newly released College Access scholarship, and Nebraska Career Scholarships. The aid is on top of Pell Grants and other scholarships that students may have already received. In addition, the College is implementing a one-time debt forgiveness program for students who have been unable to re-enroll due to past debt owed to the institution.
“There has never been a better time to attend college and earn the skills to advance your career,” said Leah Barrett, Northeast president. “Our vision is to empower every person in our region to achieve their academic and workforce goals. These funds will go far toward removing financial barriers that exist for students.”
More than 80% of students who applied for the FAFSA are expected to be eligible to receive the financial resources provided through the American Rescue Plan Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The funds will go toward assisting students impacted by the pandemic. The College will provide any eligible student attending with an expected family contribution of $15,000 or less with a grant of up to $2,500, which is equivalent of two-thirds of the cost of tuition and fees for the entire academic year. This is above and beyond any other grants and scholarships a student may receive. Funds may be used to cover any part of the cost of attendance, including tuition, housing, food, health care, and childcare.
Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services, said the pandemic has affected many students negatively, and these funds are intended to help them get back on their feet. In Fall 2020, enrollment of low income and minority students at Northeast dropped dramatically from the previous year. Moreover, the average number of credit hours for enrolled students dropped significantly.
“We found the average student took fewer hours. For some, this was due to increased work demands; and for others, it was due to the stress of taking online classes,” Nipp said. “Our hope is that many of these students re-enroll, and finish what they started, as a majority of our classes will be back to face-to-face learning.”
Nipp said Northeast has additional scholarships and programs to help students.
Two additional funds that are still available to assist students in the Fall 2021 semester are the College Access Scholarship and the Nebraska Career Scholarship.
The College Access program will be available to help enroll low-income, underserved students. This scholarship is made possible by a substantial gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The College expects to assist approximately 40 students in the upcoming academic year with the full cost of tuition and fees and $1,000 for books. The students will be able to receive this scholarship for up to three years if they meet grade point average (GPA) and credit hour requirements. It will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to qualified students until funds are exhausted.
Nebraska Career Scholarship funds became available through an appropriation by the Nebraska Legislature. The program is intended to increase the number of graduates in the high-demand, high-wage programs of Drafting, Electrical Construction and Control, Health Information Management Systems, Machining and Manufacturing Automation and Paramedic. Career Scholarship funds cover all tuition, fees and books and are also awarded on a first-come, first serve basis. Scholarships may be renewed for up to two years if the recipient meets GPA and credit hour requirements.
All scholarship applications and information about the requirements for debt forgiveness are available online at northeast.edu/tuition-relief.
Data from the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education tells the story of the financial need of college students. Among Nebraska public high school graduates over the past decade, middle and high-income students have consistently continued on to college at a rate nearly 20% higher than their low-income peers.
“Northeast is committed to helping these students be successful, by removing financial barriers and providing wraparound services,” said Tracy Kruse, vice president of development and external affairs. “Long term as the MacKenzie Scott endowment continues to grow, we hope we can use these funds to remove additional barriers and provide support services for low-income and first-generation college students. Our role is to lift up everyone in the community, provide opportunity and break the cycle of poverty.”