Texas Border Business
Laredo College and Congressman Henry Cuellar announced $73,134,236 in federal funding during a joint press conference on Sept. 9.
Through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), LC has received $53,293,581 in allocations. Conversely, the college has also been allocated $19,840,655 in other federal funding, including multi-year grants.
These funds include emergency aid for students, COVID-19 PPE and mitigation measures, upgrades to technology, lab equipment, audiovisual equipment and additional instructors. The funding also includes support for academic tutoring, federal work-study programs, STEM education, vocational/workforce training and all of the quality educational programs offered at Laredo College.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted Laredo College and the surrounding community. These federal funds will help to address the financial fallout from the pandemic and help the college move forward in an economically efficient manner,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Nearly 20,000 students have already received direct aid from these federal grants—money that helps students with tuition, personal computer equipment, and necessary COVID-19 items like PPE and masks. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to provide Laredo College students with the resources they need to learn in a safe, state-of-the-art educational setting.”
Laredo College Board President Lupita Zepeda emphasized the importance of these funds in helping Laredo College navigate the fast-paced, evolving nature of COVID-19, both at an institutional level and through its direct financial impact on students.
“These emergency funds have been instrumental in assisting us with the economic, academic and logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zepeda said. “We are grateful to Congressman Henry Cuellar for his integral role in securing this funding that will continue to benefit thousands of Laredo College students in the form of tuition assistance, debt forgiveness, academic programs, new equipment and technology, enhanced health and safety initiatives and much more.”
A total of $20,409,400 in emergency aidhas already been disbursed to thousands of Laredo College students to assist with tuition, fees and other educational costs.
At the institutional level, part of the allocated federal funds has been utilized to cover the cost of providing additional technology hardware to students, such as laptops and tablets, or covering the added cost of technology fees. Since the onset of the pandemic, the college has purchased 1,110 laptops for student and faculty use. These funds were also used to subsidize the cost of high-speed internet for students or faculty to transition to an online environment.
Health and safety remain at the center of the college’s aggressive COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts. Hence, part of these funds will be used to purchase, lease or rent additional instructional equipment and supplies, such as laboratory equipment or computers, to reduce the number of students sharing equipment or supplies during a single class period and provide time for disinfection between uses. These funds will also be directed to operating additional class sections to enable social distancing, such as hiring more instructors and increasing campus hours of operation.
Additionally, the funds will cover purchases of PPE, masks, cleaning and safety supplies, upgraded air filters, thermometers and other COVID-19 mitigation equipment and materials.
These federal monies have been vital in shouldering the financial costs associated with the increase in demand for online learning through purchasing faculty and staff training in online instruction,
the acquisition of equipment or software to enable distance learning, upgrading campus Wi-Fi access and extending open networks to parking lots or public spaces.