WSCC may use relief funds for student debt relief, video/audio studio.

January 17, 2022

WSCC may use relief funds for student debt relief, video/audio studio.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

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VICTORY TOWNSHIP — The West Shore Community College Board of Trustees will take action today on recommendations from college President Scott Ward about spending the remainder of its Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF). The college has over $900,000 remaining of the pandemic relief funds. It must spend the money by August 2022. As of Dec. 31, 2021, the college had already distributed $673,000 in direct student financial aid. 

Ward is recommending that $30,000 be used for student debt relief. 

“Outstanding student debt is one of the many barriers to student success,” Ward wrote in a memo to the. board. “Through HEERF institutional funds, we have the opportunity to discharge student debt accumulated during this fiscal year. This eliminates a barrier to registration for returning students and allows WSCC to collect accounts receivable balances which are often written-off as un-collectable after several years. The debt in question is only what is owed to WSCC, it is not student loan debt. The Department of Education (DOE) encourages institutions to discharge the debt.”

Ward is also recommending the following dispersement of the funds: 

– Lost revenue, $400,000. “Generally, lost revenue refers to those revenues an institution of higher education (institution) otherwise expected, but were reduced or eliminated as a result of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” Ward wrote. “As such, lost revenues can only be estimated.

“An institution may charge lost revenue to its grant at the end of the period that it is using to estimate lost revenue. For example, if an institution calculated lost revenue on the basis of its institutional fiscal year (FY) and used FY July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 to determine the amount of lost revenue it incurred, the institution may charge its HEERF grant award for the determined amount of lost revenue on or after the last day of the estimation period, June 30, 2021. In FY2022, it is anticipated that we will have both lost revenue in both our Auxiliary Services and our Tuition Fees. This amount represents an estimate of our potential losses this fiscal year.”

– Indirect costs, $145,000. Ward said the college may charge indirect costs to the institutional portion of HEERF. Indirect costs reflect the cost of doing business. In the case of this grant, indirect costs are an allocation of the costs to manage and operate the grant. 

– Online robotics training portal, $75,000. The college has developed plans in conjunction with Michigan Tech University and local employers to improve robotics education programming. The plans include purchasing in-house robots, like those used within local industries, and one online robotics training portal that could be used in a virtual environment. 

  • Student orientation videos, $40,000. Two years ago, the College Relations office investigated the potential of improving the online student orientation experience by creating new orientation videos. The project was not pursued at the time but is allowed under the grant guidelines. 
  • Video and audio studio, $180,000. “Our Performing Arts programming flourished during the pandemic and as a result, it has become apparent the benefits of improving our video streaming to both improve the audience experience and educating our students on video streaming for online use,” Ward said. “This room would create an environment that would allow the ability to professionally stream various musical and theatrical events, in addition to faculty utilizing it to enhance their online teaching. To complete, the room would require both technical equipment and construction. The Board approved $50,000 towards this project in the FY22 Capital Equipment Budget. 
  • HIFLEX classroom, $100,000. A HIFLEX classroom offers the student and teacher a much more interactive engagement for both the online student and the face-to-face student. “This classroom will allow all students to engage with everyone with the use of various cameras and monitors along with the necessary technical equipment to hear and see the classroom,” Ward said. “As the pandemic continues, the need to improve the virtual teaching experience continues. This classroom will provide this tool for faculty.”
  • College website redesign, $20,000. “The college is in the midst of a branding review and a website update,” Ward said. “Although the rebranding may not qualify, updating our website to improve the student online experience can be expended against our HEERF funding. This improvement will assist with the registration process, demonstrate how to access online classroom material, and graduation information from this website redesign.”

The board will meet at 4 p.m. in the John M. Eaton Board Room in the Administration and Conference Building.  

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