Federal ARPA Funds Help Reduce Debt for MCC Students

Most of the $13 million awarded to Middlesex Community College this summer through the American Rescue Plan Act is being earmarked to help individual students reduce their college expenses and debt.

“The money will allow us to support students” said MCC President Philip Sisson. “It was intended to help with the at-home expenses they incurred” during the year when almost all classes were remote.

Sisson said any student currently registered receives funds based on the number of credits during the semester, up to several hundred dollars. Students complete online applications; the size of each grant is based on need, he said. This continues throughout the school year.

Students are dealing with “eviction issues, unemployment, having financial difficulty. We hear from them all the time.”

Thanks to the ARPA grant, the college also assisted about 2,800 students with outstanding tuition balances “so we could give them the additional space they need.”

Now, Sisson said, “We get emails and letters from students who continue to be surprised that their debt was able to be wiped out.” They are advised to “thank the federal government.” U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, the Westford Democrat whose district includes Lowell, was on the campus in that city earlier this month “and we thanked her immensely.”

The college also dedicated about $1.5 million to “things that have to be done to make classrooms safe,” covering not only renovations and personal protective equipment but also “assistance with online course development.”

Sisson cited “the kind of things that faculty need. We had to make adjustments with a lot of programs, simulations that needed to be created.”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763

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