By the time the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses, closed schools, and sent classes online in March 2020, Edquity was more than prepared to support colleges in crisis.
In October 2019, 10 tornadoes struck the Dallas Area, destroying homes, wrecking buildings, and upending lives. The natural disaster caused more than $2 billion in damage, making it the most expensive tornado in Texas history.
Fortunately, just days after the twisters touched down, Dallas College launched a partnership with Edquity. Within the first hour, more than 100 students filed applications to receive emergency grants. Over the course of the following weeks, nearly one thousand of Dallas College’s students, including the many living in poverty, were able to use Edquity to apply for and receive emergency funds in less than 48 hours.
Distributing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the midst of a natural disaster proved that Edquity was prepared to help schools in the wake of COVID-19. However, as the federal government prepared to support institutions like Dallas College, a new challenge emerged: according to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, higher education institutions couldn’t use any of the $6.28 billion allocated for emergency student aid to assist students not eligible for Title IV, including undocumented, international, and DACA students. Therefore, like other colleges and universities across the country, Dallas College needed an intervention that would allow it to both remain compliant with federal guidelines and fund every student needing emergency aid.
Because compliance and inclusivity were essential to Dallas College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Edquity worked with the college to process relief dollars from the CARES Act in a way that allowed for screening of all student applicants for emergency aid, regardless of Title-IV eligibility. Title IV-eligible students received CARES Act funds, and students not eligible for Title IV received emergency aid from a pool of funds privately raised by Dallas College through its foundation. From a student’s perspective, however, this distinction was invisible. Students, regardless of their Title IV status, logged into the same user-friendly mobile app and/or web platform as their peers. On average, it took them seven minutes to complete their emergency aid applications.
Since April 2020, Dallas College has processed over 9,000 student aid applications and distributed more than $5 million in CARES Act funds to its students. Hundreds of thousands more have gone to students not eligible for federal emergency aid money. “I don’t know how we could have done that [without Edquity],” said Pyeper Wilkins, vice chancellor of workforce and advancement at Dallas College. “Especially in a pandemic when everybody is remote.” In fact, by partnering with Edquity, Dallas College was able to increase overall retention, despite the immense challenges and administrative hurdles created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, with the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act delivering billions of dollars to colleges, Dallas College is continuing its partnership with Edquity to get this money out. Together, they will be able to assist even more students in the coming months, keeping them in school and on track to achieve their goals. Whereas Dallas College and Edquity didn’t have a global pandemic — let alone a natural disaster — in mind when they decided to work together in 2019, their partnership is demonstrative of the potential impact that a streamlined, research-driven, equitable emergency aid platform can have on students and higher education institutions across the country.