More than 140 College of Southern Maryland (CSM) students who requested tuition relief or assistance during the nation’s longest federal government furlough received it, according to information compiled by CSM’s Financial Assistance Office at the end of the shutdown stand-off. In addition, every student who requested support from CSM and who were registered for spring 2019 received help.
“Eight-one students signed up for the deferred payment plan, totaling more than $107,000 in deferred tuition payments and more than $27,000 in grants were provided to students to assist with paying for books and supplies,” said Director of Financial Assistance Chris Zimmermann. “And approximately 10 financial aid application extensions were granted.”
“CSM is all about supporting our students, and there is no better example of meeting our mission than this one of being able to support our students who were impacted by the federal government shutdown, and easing some of the stress they were under as a result of the uncertainties they were facing,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy.
If you are going to college and working for the government without pay, you might be able to get help. My latest @Reuters column https://t.co/0k5KJqVSjJ
— Gail MarksJarvis (@gailmarksjarvis) January 25, 2019
When the news that the government shutdown could extend beyond the first day of classes and tuition payment deadlines, CSM established two assistance opportunities to meet the needs of impacted students, both credit and non-credit.
U.S. colleges and universities are postponing tuition, waiving late fees and providing emergency grants to students because of the shutdown https://t.co/3AMC7YNrFC
— Bloomberg (@business) January 25, 2019
The first was a tuition payment plan with no money down or enrollment fee required and tuition payments coinciding with the reinstatement of the federal government budget and when workers returned to their jobs. The second was an emergency assistance program that provided a one-time grant for students permanently affected by layoffs or not anticipating reimbursement of back pay from the government shutdown. Funding for these grants are made possible through the efforts of the CSM Foundation. As spring semester began, 100 students had been already provided support.
CSM’s offer helped Reanna Robinson, 22, of Washington D.C., maintain some balance during “a very stressful time.” Robinson works full-time as a TSA officer at Reagan National Airport, is raising her 1-year-old daughter, and was able to continue to take five college classes on her way to a degree in criminal justice. [Learn more about Robinson in the NPR story about CSM’s efforts: Colleges Provide Tuition Relief to Furloughed Workers.]
CSM student Brittany Pritchett, of Lusby, told the St. Mary’s Enterprise that she didn’t think the furlough would last as long as it did and she was glad that CSM put her on a non-pay status until she returns to work.
“I’m very thankful that they had this option,” Pritchett was quoted as saying. “I was weighing things out and calculating, and I was also given a grant that will take care of my books. It was a very quick, self-explanatory thing; I just had to upload my furlough letter. Someone contacted me right away and the grant was given right away.” Pritchett is employed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and is studying business management.
“I can honestly say that psychologically, it relieved me,” said Gregory Hudson, of CSM’s efforts. The 54-year-old disabled military veteran from Waldorf shared with the Associated Press that his fiancée was furloughed from the Federal Aviation Administration and he was struggling to find gas money for his commute to campus when he saw a notice offering help on the CSM’s website. Ultimately, he received a $200 grant, which he called a “great blessing” that kept him from dropping out of classes.
Are students dropping out because of the shutdown? Colleges fear they will and are offering help to keep them enrolled https://t.co/33bnaJddZR
— Collin Binkley (@cbinkley) January 25, 2019
This week, Community College Daily’s Ellie Ashford reported many of the nearly 6,000 students enrolled at CSM are employed at nearby military bases or federal government offices.
Tens of thousands of federal employees live in the Fifth District, which includes the three Southern Maryland counties in CSM’s service area. In addition to the many residents who are employed by the federal government in Washington, D.C., other major employers in the region include the bases in St. Mary’s and Charles counties [Navy Aviation Warfare Center-Aviation Division NAWC/AD, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWC/IHEODTD), and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)] and the associated defense contractors.
“We helped students stay the course,” said Murphy, who also serves on the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) board of directors. “This effort and student outreach is a tribute to the dedication of the CSM staff and the generous support of our CSM Foundation.”
“As we’ve said throughout this historic shutdown,” Murphy added, “No student’s education should be interrupted because of a situation that occurred through no fault of their own, and our college stands ready to help our students achieve their academic goals in any way we can.”
The College of Southern Maryland is a regionally accredited community college that provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community. CSM serves more than 24,000 credit and continuing education students at its campuses located in Hughesville, La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick, as well as a Higher Education Center shared with University of Maryland University College in Waldorf and a Center for Transportation Training in La Plata. For information about CSM, call 301-934-7765 or visit http://www.csmd.edu.