Dr. Pato reports how ASCC has spent its CARES Act funding
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Of the total $1.61 million that the American Samoa Community College received in federal COVID-19 funding, 50% went to stipends for students who attended the Spring semester and each student received a check of more than $900, according to ASCC president Dr. Rosevonne Pato during a presentation at last week’s cabinet meeting.
STUDENT AID PORTION
Dr. Pato explained that the 50% — $809,943 — is the student aid portion of the funds from the US Department of Education that was received June 2nd. “So we decided the number of students we had in the Spring Semester, when we began our COVID-19 compliance. And it came out to $985.31 per student, who received this funding,” she said.
The first batch of checks was for the 66 students from the Spring graduation and when graduates picked up their degrees and certificates they also picked up their checks, she said.
About two weeks ago, the rest of the 755 students who attended Spring Semester picked up their checks at a designated time and date, based on the first letter of the student’s last name.
As part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the ASCC was “allocated funds to assist students in need as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic and its disruption of campus operations,” Dr. Pato wrote in a June 11th letter to students.
This emergency funding is intended “to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care),” according to part of the letter.
During the cabinet meeting, she explained that about $3 (three-dollars) is left in this allocation.
The other 50% — $808,943 — received June 4th goes to the institution, or the college and the funding was divided into five category areas depending on how it’s used. Dr. Pato provided a verbal summary briefing as well as a slide-show of how the money is being spent for each category.
“One of the issues that we had with [this] funding is that it came at the end of May and also the beginning of June, [but] our Spring Semester was also finished by then, but we incurred a lot of costs, to try and get us online,” she explained.
Among the expenses covered with this funding includes internet, (including mobile MyFi service); devices such as phones, external backups for laptops; material; and equipment repair.
“It also went to training [which] is a big part of online courses. It is very difficult to put classes that are normally face-to-face classes, to online,” she said. “Because our college closed, we have to walk right into, what we called ‘crash course training’.”
As “we are walking into Summer, we’re doing a more thorough job, of walking our teachers and our students into using online — or a different way of learning and teaching,” she explained.
There was also a need for IT support and this is a “continuing process as courses and other information are put online and this is another area with a lot of costs,” she said, noting that other costs include safety for staff and personnel.
To comply with federal requirements of the COVID-19 funding, ASCC also posted on its website (www.amsamoa.edu), this presentation as well as an updated USDOE compliance form, of how this money was spent.