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Galveston College Board of Regents hears report on CARES Act funding and financial needs of students

The Galveston Community College District Board of Regents on April 14 learned that Galveston College had distributed $1.07 million in direct federal financial aid to Galveston College students through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA): Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II).

Dr. Myles Shelton, college president, said emergency grants were provided to students whose lives were disrupted because of COVID-19 and who faced financial challenges due to job loss and unemployment, healthcare, childcare and other unexpected expenses.

Dr. Shelton said the American Rescue Plan, which Congress signed into law in March, includes provisions for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III).

In other business, Carmen Allen, director of institutional effectiveness and research, presented a student success report on the results from the Trellis Student Financial Wellness Survey (SFWS).

The SFWS is a national, online survey used to document the financial health and student success indicators of students in higher education. In addition to financial wellness, data from the survey provide critical insights into topics such as basic needs security and student perceptions of institutional support.

Findings from the fall 2020 survey administration show that many Galveston College students have anxiety about paying for school: 73 percent agree or strongly agree that they worry about having enough money to pay for school, and 67 percent have run out of money three or more times in the past year.

Additionally, 74 percent of students said their family’s finances have worsened since before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of students agree or strongly agree Galveston College has the support services to help them address their financial situations.

“By utilizing the data and research-based suggestions presented in the survey report, the college can continue to structure programs and initiatives to bolster students’ success in the face of financial challenges,” Allen said.

In board action, the board approved instructional agreements for dual-credit and early-admissions enrollment classes for the 2021-22 academic year with the Galveston Independent School District, O’Connell College Preparatory School, Odyssey Academy and Upward Hope Academy.

In other action, board members:

–approved the reappointment of full-time faculty for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
–accepted the retirement of Kathleen Hutchins-Otero, Associate Degree Nursing instructor, effective Aug. 31.
–reviewed the first and second quarter reports on incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking under Section 51.253(c) of the Texas Education Code as amended during the 86th Legislative Session.
–approved an agreement between The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Galveston College to provide student health and counseling services for the 2021-22 academic year.
–heard an update on the 2020-21 Galveston College lecture series on Diversity, Inclusion and Empowerment from Janene Davison, president of the Faculty Senate.
–heard a Student Government Association update from SGA President Maia Adolphs, who said the SGA had begun a Whitecaps Wardrobe professional clothing closet for students. The SGA also will be recognizing seven dual-credit students from Ball High School who will receive their associate degrees in May and will host officer elections and a virtual escape room this spring.
–reviewed the monthly financial reports presented by Jeff Engbrock, chief financial officer/comptroller.

Upon request by college officials, the board removed from the agenda a proposal to supply and install a needlepoint ionization system at the main campus and at the Charlie Thomas Family Applied Technology Center to allow further study and review.