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Bunker Hill Community College Emergency Assistance Fund Boosts Student Retention

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Student Emergency Assistance Fund established by Bunker Hill Community College has resulted in a retention rate 15 percent higher than the College as a whole. BHCC President Mary L. Fifield established the program in January 2009 to ensure that the weak economy did not force students to drop out of school.

From January through June 2009, the fund from the College’s budget and supplemented by the MetLife Foundation, made grants totaling $63,000 to 87 students. Due to its success, the College has increased the amount available to $137,000 for the current 2009-2010 academic year, with additional support from the Student Government Association and College Foundation.   

“The weak economy has hit our students hard.  Sometimes an MBTA pass is the difference between going to school or not,” said Fifield.  “This fund is for students who planned their educational finances prior to the academic year and then during the time of their enrollment are confronted with an emergency or unanticipated event that could cause them to drop out of College.”

Students may receive up to $1,000. They apply though the College Financial Aid Office, which makes decisions and distributes the funds within three business days of the application. Grants given so far have included $75 to replace a lost monthly MBTA pass, $428 to replace books and supplies in a stolen book bag and $700 for car repairs for a student with disabilities.  Another $1,000 grant covered payments for cancer treatment. 

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About Bunker Hill Community College
Bunker Hill Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts, enrolling approximately 18,000 students annually. BHCC has two campuses in Charlestown and Chelsea, and a number of other locations throughout the Greater Boston area. BHCC is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. Sixty-five percent of the students are people of color and more than half of BHCC's students are women. The College also enrolls nearly 600 international students who come from 94 countries and speak more than 75 languages.