Students Eligible for $7 Million in HEERF Funding

Grant awards will begin in the range of $400 to $1,300 per term, depending on qualifying status

Starting this summer term, Central Oregon Community College (COCC) will begin to disperse $7,082,000 in federal aid from the U.S. government’s expanded Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to enrolled credit students, based on individuals’ financial need and enrollment status. The grant awards will begin in the range of $400 to $1,300 per term, depending on qualifying status, with all awarded dollars applied automatically to the college’s upcoming academic year. Grants will continue throughout the 2021-22 academic year.

“This means so much for our low-income students,” said Breana Sylwester, COCC’s director of financial aid. “Our Federal Pell Grant students will be prioritized and awarded the highest amount, with other awards based on estimated enrollment status.” The limited funding, Sylwester added, will support students with tuition, general school costs, living expenses and other needs.

An additional $402,500 will support the training and materials needs of eligible students in adult basic skills, continuing education and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). These funds will pay for workforce development classes, adult basic skills students’ laptop purchases, SBDC tuition assistance for entrepreneurs and experienced small business owners, and more.

The aid comes from supplemental HEERF funding attached to the federal government’s 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. The two supplemental funds — established by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed into law last December, and the American Rescue Plan, signed into law this past March — greatly increase HEERF’s impact on higher education.

“This aid will directly contribute to our local economy, so the impact of these awards is far-reaching across Central Oregon,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, COCC’s president. “These funds will enable many local students to begin achieving, or continue achieving, their higher education goals, and we’re excited to welcome them back to all four of our campuses this fall.”

Last year, close to 1,700 COCC students received financial support from the initial round of HEERF funding, ranging from $525 to $1,025 per student. Under a ruling from the Biden administration, CARES Act funding is now available to undocumented students, corresponding with Oregon and COCC regulations.

For more information, contact Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs, at 541-383-7244 or

HEERF Grant Awards