Even if you have no desire to further your education, you may want to consider enrolling in Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) right now.

The monetary benefits are unbelievably attractive due to all the COVID-19 relief money flooding the system.  Many millions of those dollars, by law, have to be used to benefit students, and GTCC is seeing to it that that happens.

GTCC President Anthony Clarke recently gave a synopsis to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners as to how the college is using the money.

“In the CARES Act, the total received by the college was $8.2 million; CRRSAA [Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act] was $15.7 million, and we just received the money for the American Rescue Plan at $27 million,” Clarke told the commissioners in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House.

He said there are two pots of money – the student portion and the institutional portion.

“The student portion is required to go directly to students – with no strings attached, but they have to be students,” he said.  “The tricky part is that we cannot use the money to entice students to come to the college.  So, what we’ve said is that there’s federal funds available for students – which is true.  But you’ve got to be a student.”

After 10 percent of classes are complete, students who are still enrolled “get a check or direct deposit of anywhere from, right now, $250 to $1,000.”

That amount depends on the student’s income level and whether they’re a part-time or full-time student.

  “It can be used for tuition,” Clarke said. “It can be used for child care, for food or for transportation.  They can put it in the bank.  There’s no requirement what they do with that money, but we can give it out.”

Which is exactly what GTCC is doing.

“So, we’ve done that with the CARES Act, we’ve done that with CRRSAA and we’re planning to do it with the American Rescue Plan this fall.  We actually did it this summer, too, and we’ll probably do it this spring.  We have to spend it by May of 2022 – so perhaps in the spring we might raise our amounts.  So, we’re not going to end up with any money.  We’re giving it all out.  We’re going to help our students – that’s what we’re focused on.”

There’s even money for students who take a short class to get a business or trade credential.

“It’s also $500 for basic skills or adult education or workforce student,” Clark said, “so if you sign up for a short-term credential, you’ll get $500 once you become a student.”

He said it took a while for GTCC administrators to figure out all the rules regarding the relief money.  He added that the American Rescue Plan provided GTCC with $27 million – and $14 million of that is allocated to go directly to students.

Even funds provided for institutional use are benefiting students.  GTCC is using that money to make education at the school very cheap.

“Basically, we’ve waived all fees,” Clarke told the commissioners.  “We’re paying all fees for every student at GTCC for the summer and the fall.”

  That includes special course fees like the ones usually attached to biology classes.

GTCC is also forgiving debt.

“We are discharging student debt,” he said.

If a student has incurred debt during the pandemic, that debt is removed and the student can return to school. 

“We contacted all students and let them know,” Clarke said.

 The school’s book stores are also providing a discount on all instructional materials – and all shipping is free.

Can’t make it to class because your car broke down?  Don’t worry, the college may pay the $400 needed to fix your car.  It may help with child care or other needs as well.

Clarke said the main reasons that students drop out of community colleges are non-academic reasons. He said GTCC is using the relief money to remove obstacles to education.

“Oh, wait, there’s more,” Clark told the board.

A state program will pay tuition at a community college for two years for seniors graduating this year.

“It is a time to come to community college,” he said.

Clarke added that he heard someone talking about taking a “gap year,” and he said, “This is the wrong year to take your gap year.”

It certainly seems to be.