(House Television via AP) Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.)
(House Television via AP)

Rep. Harley Rouda announced colleges and universities in his district will receive more than $17 million in emergency grants to help recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The funding comes from the CARES Act, passed by Congress in March, and will go to eight colleges and universities within Rouda’s district. At least half of the funding allocated to these universities will need to be distributed to students in the form of emergency cash grants to help them pay for housing, food and other basic necessities. 

“COVID-19 has disrupted Orange County students’ education, housing, meal programs and on-campus jobs,” Rouda said in a statement. “These critical grants will help our struggling students as they continue to pursue higher education via distance learning.”

Students across the country have had to pack up their dorms as colleges and universities close their doors to in-person classes and make the switch to online education. Universities have increasingly relied on student tuition as a main source of revenue in recent years, according to a CBS reports. But as students opt to take gap years or choose less expensive options, like community colleges, these schools are facing real budget shortages. 

“[This funding helps us] to support our students in a time of tremendous upheaval, while allowing them to continue their educational journey so that they will be ready to embrace their future when this crisis ends,” said John Weispfenning, who serves as chancellor of Coast Community College District and will be receiving funding. “The flexibility in this funding means that we can meet our students where they are, whether they need direct financial support, access to technology that allows for online instruction, or continuation of wrap-around services at a distance.”

Students who attend these schools should contact their administration to find out more about the available funding.