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MCLA to Distribute State, Federal Funding Directly to Students

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will continue distribution of $1 million in federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF), part of the American Rescue Plan, in 2021, along with $689,200 via the state-funded MassGrant Plus program.

MassGrant Plus funding is allocated according to the percentage of enrolled students eligible for federal Pell grants, and is available for full-time or part-time students who need assistance paying for tuition and fees. More than 45% of MCLA students are eligible for Pell grants.

During the 2020-21 academic year, MCLA was able to distribute $208,800 in MassGrant Plus funding; the allocation for the 2021-22 academic year is $689,200. MCLA Director of Student Financial Services Bonnie Howland said the college is currently working on awarding funds for the 2021-22 academic year, and will likely distribute half during the current fall 2021 semester, with the other half distributed in the spring of 2022.

HEERF funding is part of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP). One of the largest investments ever made in American higher education, the ARP allocates $40 billion to colleges in order to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A third round of pandemic relief for higher-education institutions, the ARP funds are more than double the first two COVID recovery packages combined. HEERF funding, which exists under the umbrella of ARP, is meant specifically for students.

MCLA received $1.9 million in HEERF funding, announced in August 2021. Students enrolled for summer 2021 courses already received some of this funding, and Howland said the college plans to distribute $1 million in HEERF funding to all students enrolled in credit-bearing courses in mid-November. The remainder will be disbursed to enrolled students in the spring of 2022.

Students with the highest need, demonstrated via FAFSA information, will receive the majority of this funding, but all enrolled students will receive a check along with the option to use the funds to pay off student debt or pay for future semesters of college.

“Many of our students have considerations beyond getting to class on time — they are often balancing their studies with work, family obligations, and other commitments,” MCLA President James Birge said. “I’m grateful for this federal and state funding, which will go directly to support our students. A college education can change lives, and for many of our students, receiving financial help along the way will make a difference in the long term.”

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