CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Del Mar College student Freddie Ochoa was just like the rest of us. He was scared, uneasy, and uncertain of what the future held for him.
Ochoa is making history in his family as the first to attend college. During his first year at Del Mar, he worked at a call center full-time in order to help pay for his tuition. As the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread into the United States, Ochoa was unsure if he'd be able to keep his job, and that right there threatened his opportunity to get a college education.
"I was scared out of my mind," he said. "My boss told me that we might end up shutting down and I didn't know what I was going to do."
He needed that paycheck to continue going to school: It was that simple.
"I can't afford to pay for school," he said. "If I need anything, I have to find a way to get money to get the stuff I need."
Ochoa was not alone in this regard. The pandemic has rocked the very core of our society as we look to navigate this new normal.
Students who applied for financial aid are receiving some help, thanks for the CARES Act -- which stands for Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security, and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Ochoa is one of those students.
Students are eligible for this grant money by filling out a financial aid form. There already has been the first roll out of money, but students can still become eligible for the next waves that are set to be handed out in the near future.
Del Mar College Vice President of Student Affairs Rito Silva said this act is essential for students in need.
"We need to provide our students any type of support we can give them," he said.
Full-time students are receiving more grant money than part-time students and more grant money is on the way for those who fill out FASFA forms. Those forms can be found on the school's website.
For students like Ochoa, this grant money is coming at the perfect time.
"I was able to keep my job and stay full time," he said.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has also begun to distribute CARES Act grants. School officials said in just a matter of weeks, the university has received more than 2,700 applications.