Cerritos College forgives $1.3 million in unpaid student fees


Fatima Durrani

Cerritos College aims to provide financial relief by forgiving the debt of unpaid students in the hopes of keeping them enrolled in schools. Statistics show a large decline in enrollment – specifically in community colleges.

Fatima Durrani, Opinion Editor

Cerritos College distributed $1.3 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HERF), to forgive unpaid student fees which included unpaid enrollment fees, class materials and health services for every kind of student. The college aimed to help students stay in school by not penalizing them for overdue obligations.

According to the Community College Research Center when comparing community college students & four year college students, studies showed how more community college students cancelled plans for college, took fewer courses and dropped by numbers in enrollment. The pandemic hit community college enrollment harshly in comparison to four year colleges.

“We understand the negative impacts the pandemic has had on our students. Over the last two years, students had to abruptly transition from taking classes in person to going online,” said Yvette Tafoya, dean of enrollment services at Cerritos College. Tafoya said that putting students’ needs first helped eliminate a financial burden.

The Student Services team at Cerritos College also implemented many programs for the success of students, such as Falcon’s Nest, which helps provide students with basic needs such as hygiene necessities, Franco’s Market, Franco’s closet and campus resource loans.

Cerritos College is the first Californian community college to have a housing project called The Village, provided to homeless students or any students facing housing insecurity. Projects like these provide relief to students and encourage them to stay enrolled in community college.

Tafoya said Cerritos College wants students to complete their necessary classes that they need in order to transfer to a 4-year university or graduate from Cerritos College.

According to CNBC, college enrollment dropped to 25% during the pandemic. Cerritos College as well as other community colleges aim to prevent this by providing loans, comfort programs and resources to encourage students to refrain from dropping out.

Students are still continuing to abandon their community college due to rising concerns of COVID-19, financial insecurities and the raising of tuition prices both in community colleges and four year universities.

The HEERF awarded Cerritos College five times from 2020 to 2021, providing emergency relief to students ranging from the spring semester in 2020 to the fall semester in 2021.

The America Rescue Plan provides direct relief and assistance to those impacted harshly by COVID-19, and allows HEERF funds to be utilized by students. Reducing penalties that community college students have been going through during the pandemic has helped many students enrolled within Cerritos College stay enrolled.