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OCC uses CARES Funds To Purchase Laptops for Students

Oakland Community College will use $1M in CARES funding to purchase Dell laptops for full-time students this fall. OCC will use a portion of its federal coronavirus relief funds to support students’ technology needs. Students who receive laptops under the program may keep the device at the end of the fall semester. In addition, OCC will provide a designated, on-campus space for students who need Wi-Fi connectivity and OCC-licensed software.

Laptops can help ensure that students have appropriate technology to participate in online learning. It also helps OCC meet the requirements of the federal CARES Act program. Educational institutions that receive funds under the act must use at least 50% of the money for direct aid to students.

Early in the pandemic, Washtenaw Community College provided Chromebooks to some students who lacked Internet access technology. While Chromebooks are sufficient for lightweight computing needs, they do not run the applications that students may need to complete their coursework.

OCC’s program will purchase as many as 3,500 laptops for full-time students. By setting the qualifying requirements to 12 credit hours, OCC will leverage the CARES funding to increase its credit-hour enrollment. Full-time status may also help some students qualify for additional financial aid.

Based on the program’s stated constraints, OCC will spend less than $300 per laptop. Under a cost-recovery model, that’s less than $5 per credit hour. WCC does charge students a $10 per credit hour “Technology Fee.” To be clear, this money goes directly into the General Fund. It is not earmarked for “technology” of any sort. If WCC actually used the students’ “technology fee” to fund technology purchases, WCC might also be able to provide its full-time students with competent laptops as part of their tuition and fees.

Photo Credit: Maggie Hallahan, Microsoft, Azure, Visual Studio , via Flickr