How the American Rescue Plan Helped Trinity Students

How the American Rescue Plan Helped Trinity Students

One year ago this week, the Biden Administration enacted the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law, and with it the third Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF 3).  Of the three pandemic relief programs for higher education (first the CARES Act which was HEERF 1, then HEERF 2, then HEERF 3 through the ARP), HEERF 3 was the most generous and most flexible to help students.  In addition to providing emergency grants for ALL students, including undocumented students, HEERF 3 also allowed universities to use their institutional funding to pay off student receivables accumulated during the pandemic when students could not keep up with their tuition bills, a real win-win for students and colleges.

Since the first CARES Act grant in April 2020, Trinity has received a total of $12,372,071 for both student emergency grants and institutional pandemic-related expenses.  Of that amount, a little more than half, or $6,478,527 has been distributed to students thus far in the form of more than 2,400 emergency grants ($4,178,527) and balance paydowns ($2,300,000).  From HEERF 3 alone, we have paid out $2,026,337 in about 1,200 emergency grants, and about $2.3 million in the balance paydowns.  (See Trinity’s compliance statements here.)

In addition to paying down student receivables, Trinity used the institutional funds from the HEERF program to purchase about 500 laptops for distribution to students and staff who needed them for working from home; boosting wifi on campus; expanding zoom accounts; stipends for faculty to learn how to teach online; purchasing PPE such as masks, screens and air purifiers; upgrading Health Services capacity to delivery testing and the vaccine; improving air handling in certain offices where old systems could not purify air; and other pandemic-related expenses.

No doubt about it, the federal relief during the pandemic has been a huge help for Trinity students.  The balance paydown program was widely reported in popular media in Fall 2021, see many news stories linked on this page and the PBS NewsHour coverage.

Students are expressing their gratitude for the ARP emergency grants; here are some of their comments:

Tara Davis-Rama, CAS First year Pre-Nursing:  I am genuinely grateful to have been awarded the ARP grant. I am a returning full-time student. I am currently taking pre-nursing classes with the hope of entering nursing school in the Fall of 2022. In addition to attending school full-time, I was no longer working full-time. The ARP grant allowed me to pay the remaining balance of my tuition. The assistance allowed me to stay in school and focus on my studies. As a result of the financial burden being alleviated, I completed last semester making the Dean’s List. I am truly grateful for the privilege to be awarded the grant.

Anonymous, CAS First Year intended Nursing major:  This grant help me a lot. This is my first year in college. It has been an experience ups and downs. When I first got accepted I said “yes,” this is awesome, and my bill wouldn’t be that expensive. But I forgot about books and the part of my tuition that wasn’t covered by my scholarships and basically I was living on my own.  What  a wake up call. My head was all over the place. So I called the person who has had my back since day one, my mom.  She said we first have to get you those books and then we will deal with the tuition balance. She did her best to help. Then I saw an email say CARES ACT/HEERF ARP (American Rescue Plan) pandemic relief program. I applied immediately. I got approved and the light at the end of the tunnel was shining bright. I paid the balance on my tuition and brought my books and some other items as well. These funds came at the right time because I was clueless as to where my mother and I was going to get the funds from in that short period of time.

Anonymous, CAS First Year Class of 2026: The ARP grant is truly a blessing to many students. I am a recipient of the ARP grant and it helped me greatly. The grant helped me last semester when my old computer crashed in the middle of class one day beyond repair. I was able to get a replacement in little time and continue my online work that was required to do in class. The grant also helped me with medical expenses. In that time of my life I faced a lot of pressure that affected me mentally and in turn weakened my immune system. To spare the details, after about 4 months of physical pain and a newly gained limp, I was finally able to go to a specialist and get treated. I am much better now and it truly is thanks to the help I was able to get because of the grant. Thank you for the great impact you have had on students like me!

Anonymous, CAS First Year Class of 2026: As a DREAM.US scholar, any help provided to us is greatly appreciated. Moving to DC from Louisiana was a wonderful yet costly experience.When Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana it greatly affected my hometown and the grant allowed me to meet my personal needs as well as helped my family evacuate.  Many of us have had a difficult time recovering after the pandemic and having something to rely on takes a huge toll off our shoulders.

Kalkidan Deneke, NHP Junior in Nursing:  This emergency grant helps me in so many ways that I can explain. Due to covid, life is getting a little bit challenging for my father and me. God bless this emergency grant came in handy; it covered my school and some necessary things. This semester, in the beginning, I was stressing out how to get the money for my school even though my school performance was low due to my stress, but the grant eased the pressure to allow me to perform well in my school work.

Anonymous, CAS Senior: I am a first generation graduating senior, with a major in Human Relations and a minor in Business Administration. One of the many things running through my mind is how will I finish paying for school? Living through a pandemic has put on a lot of financial stress for me. I went from working about 40 hours a week to getting my hours cut and working about 23 hours a week. I had to get another job thinking it would help, but I found myself in the same situation. Living check by check, overworked, and drained. I was struggling to pay my bills, most importantly my tuition. I didn’t want my tuition balance to be the main thing holding back from graduating. Therefore, I decided to ask for financial assistance. With the help of this emergency grant it has taken a huge weight off my shoulders, which I’m so grateful for. This emergency grant has gone towards my tuition. I am more at ease! Especially knowing that I will be able to graduate on time. I strongly believe that the grant program should continue, there are many students who are struggling to pay their bills, even after taking on multiple jobs. So these grants help relieve some of the financial stress students may encounter. Thank you for providing this assistance!

Miriam Barcenas, CAS First Year Class of 2025: The ARP grant took a burden off my shoulders, and I could fully focus on all my classes. Without financial stresses lingering in the back of my mind, I did my best and got straight As, placing me on the Dean’s List for the Fall 2021 semester. I used the money to cover school supplies and my basic needs during Fall 2021 and the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester. Through the financial relief, I had more time to get involved in extracurricular activities such as Black Student Alliance, Gospel Choir, and The Record. I am so grateful for the ARP grant because it allowed me to accomplish my personal and academic goals.

Faith Williams, NHP, Junior in Occupational Therapy: The emergency grant was significant to me. I work as a sales representative. I lost my job during COVID’s most difficult period. But that didn’t stop the bills from coming in; thanks to this emergency grant, I was able to keep up with my payments. This grant has also assisted me in paying off my outstanding school debt. Imagine if I didn’t have this grant; I wouldn’t be able to do what I did with it. That is why I want the emergency grant to be available every year for students like myself who struggle to meet their financial obligations.

Gina Pryor, SPS, AA Program in Health Services: I applied and received an emergency grant through the ARP (American Rescue Plan) pandemic relief program of the US Department of Education.  Because of this emergency grant, I was able to purchase my books, pay my tuition as well as pay a bill.  I’m so ever grateful because I had lost my job due to covid which was not at a good time, but I put my trust in the Lord.  It’s not easy because I have a 74-year-old Mother who has challenges whom I take care of, too.  It’s not easy because I continue to search for employment and try to make ends meet until something comes along.  But without the emergency cares act I don’t know what to I would have done without the assistance provided.

Carolyn Murphy, SPS AA Program in Early Childhood Education:  First and foremost it has been a pleasure attending Trinity. I had not worked since the pandemic due to me falling and hurting my back which caused me not to be able to walk for over a year. I made my student advisor aware and she sent me the link to apply for the ARP grants. To make a long story short I applied for the program twice and each time I received funds shortly thereafter. Trinity has been an asset to me. I have further educated myself and I also have Trinity, the students and the professors to thank for this opportunity when I graduate. I will have a great education and a wonderful lifetime experience. All of this will be because Trinity has afforded me this amazing opportunity at the age of 52 years old. Trinity also saved me from, being evicted out of my apartment. So I must say thank you to the staff, the professors, and the students for making this experience something I can tell my 2 grandsons about in the future and hopefully they will follow in my footsteps and attend the university in the future.

Barbara Stanley, SPS Associate Degree Program in General Studies:  The ARP grant helped me with my electric bill when it was about to get disconnected.  The grant enable me to continue my studies and not lose my internet and also help me with my books and have a little extra money on hand. I think the grants should continue because you never know a student’s situation dealing with this pandemic, the grant will come in handy and help the students continue their education, help with the financial needs such as child care and so forth.

Martha Rondon, CAS Senior Class of 2022, Biology: The ARP emergency grant helped me stay in college and maintain a good GPA standing throughout the pandemic. It eased the financial burden that Covid has caused to me and my family. A lot was going on in my personal life that prevented me from working and with the help of the ARP emergency grant, I was able to maintain focus in my classes and have money to pay for school-related expenses, despite everything going on. With the ongoing issue of inflation, this grant will be very helpful to many students in 2022.

Sarah Jalloh, CAS Junior Class of 2023: I am grateful for this grants and it helps me to focus more on my academic work and work less at my job. These grants help pay my bills financially. Thank you for what you doing for us.

Zaryah Salley, CAS Junior Class of 2023, Business Major and Economics Minor: The grant money I received was important to me because I was unsure how I was going to pay for my books and school supplies for the upcoming Spring semesters when I needed the grant money. When I heard about the grant money I applied for it because my parents and I have a deal where they pay the balance on my tuition and I have to pay for all books I need to get as well as any supplies I need for the semester.  If I hadn’t had the opportunity to receive the grant money, I might have had to take out a small loan amount to help pay for the materials I needed for class for at least 2 semesters. At the time my parents and family members could not help me pay for my books and I wasn’t working, so I was really worried about getting money for my supplies. I have since been able to get a job and am currently on track to graduate next year without any debts or loans from school. The grant program should continue because I am sure there are other student going through a similar or even more difficult time than I did, who need the grant money. I think that the program would be able to help students with their financial difficulties, even if it’s only helping to take the burden off from needing to finding funding for paying for supplies or books for the semester or even the whole school year.

Deriana Womack, CAS First Year Class of 2025, Human Relations:  I attend Trinity Washington University and I am majoring in Human Relations. The pandemic relief program helped me so much during this first tough year of college. It helped me be able to financially take care of myself in my personal life by getting transportation to and from school. Recently, My Macbook broke and I really could not afford to get a new laptop and my parents couldn’t either. The grant came right in time to help me get a new laptop. I am more then grateful for this program it has helped better my life and help with the stress financially.

Anonymous, CAS Class of 2024: I am truly grateful for this grant program and being part of this opportunity because not taking things for granted it helped me a lot.  Through this time of pandemic both my father and I lost our jobs; we got COVID 19 twice and it was extremely hard for us to pay for food and pay our bills but that grant I received helped more than enough. The money I had left I did help out the homeless a bit through their challenges! I am grateful and always will be.  I think these program should continue because it can help out many students in other personal needs they have. Many might feel embarrassed or shy to ask for help and support but asking it’s not bad but can help a lot. I truly appreciate what this school and the program have done for me!

Anonymous, Nursing Class of 2023: The emergency grant was important to me, because I was able to relieve my financial issues. I used the grant to pay for books and school supplies I needed for school. I also used it to catch up on bills for myself & my family. I was able to help my family with this grant. The emergency was very helpfully to me & my family.

Anonymous, Nursing Class of 2022: I am so happy I have the opportunity to express how much the emergency grants helped me through my financial struggles during the pandemic.  The pandemic was rough for so many different reasons. Financially I was without of job and with minimal support from my family. The ARP grant helped me pay my rent when I was struggling to figure out a way to do so. I didn’t have to worry about how I would be able to afford my next meal because the extra financial support. Without the opportunity to secure the grant my situation could have been totally different. My housing could have been gone in the midst of an international health crisis. I am so grateful the government provided this support specifically to college students during this vulnerable time.

Anonymous, CAS Junior: I, like many of my classmates, was fortunate enough to receive an emergency grant. I want to express my gratitude for your assistance during the pandemic. Many of us were unemployed during the epidemic, and costs of goods and services were higher than normal , so receiving that grant was critical in making life a little easier during the crisis. I am especially grateful for your generosity. I was able to afford food and other necessities thanks to your assistance.

Would you like to share your story of how the American Rescue Plan helped you?  Send me a paragraph at and I will add your story to this blog, or just use the comment link below to add your story here.

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