How You Can Support Struggling Fullerton College Students

Most of our students struggled with food and income insecurity before the COVID-19 crisis hit.  They worked multiple jobs and lived paycheck to paycheck while racking up debt as the income never quite covered all the expenses.

They need help through this pandemic and economic crisis more than ever. Many students don’t qualify for the stimulus check.

Please consider donating to the Fullerton College Foundation to help us provide Emergency Grants of $250 each to offer just a little help during this crisis.

You can make a donation by visiting

I know there are so many incredible needs and our community is spread thin while hurting themselves, but I want to share with you the voices of some of our students who shared their stories with me.

Most prefaced them with, “But there are so many others who are suffering more…”

*   We’re healthy and safe.  That’s what I remind myself when I’m scared.  There’s not enough to eat and help just seems so far away.  The schools have free lunches and I don’t know what we’d do without it. As a single mom, it’s hard to go anywhere with three little ones, but the drive-up lunch give away means they have one meal we can count on. They don’t always like what we have for dinner so I can usually make a small meal from what one of them doesn’t finish and I try to make something they like better the next day, but our choices are limited by what we can afford.

*   I lost all three jobs that I had. Who knew I’d look back on the days of living paycheck to paycheck as the “good old days”?

*   We have five people in a 2-bedroom apartment which used to be plenty of space because we all worked so much it was just where we slept and left notes for each other. Now, we’re together 24/7 and tensions run high as we descend down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the bottom rung.  Every day is a search for food and sanity. Both are in short supply.  Help.

*   At the moment we only have one computer between me and my sister, who is a college student, and it’s very difficult because we both need to use it to complete our school work.  I’ve applied for the school, but we’re starting week 6 of this transition.

*   I haven’t been working much as my hours are limited. I have a child to take care at home and I worry about everything all the time. I was planning on skipping summer classes, which will delay transfer, but if this can be given to me it would help me so much and I can register for classes.!  do pay school out of pocket it so this will cover my tuition fee. I would really appreciate it.  It just feels like help isn’t coming.”

*   This left me unemployed and it is really hard to even manage the everyday groceries , food and everything which is distracting me a lot in studies. Your reminder about Maslow was so good – I’m at the bottom of the pyramid.  I have a 4.0  GPA and want to transfer to transform my life, but I am really worried about my grades at this time.  Will my future be wiped out by a pandemic?”

*   An emergency grant will be very beneficial to me primarily because I lost my job. I used to have a steady stream of income coming into my bank account and that’s gone. I’m also having difficulties finding paid jobs right now. As a result, it’s challenging to pay for my bills at all. Until I find a new and stable job, this emergency grant will be sufficient and a great support for me during this crisis.  And it would mean someone believed in me. I need that right now.

*   I work at a restaurant and due to the pandemic, I am working such a significant less amount of hours. I am the oldest in my family of 6 and would take care of my own bills (car, insurance, phone bills, groceries) but also pay for my younger sibling’s expenses. Not only that but my father (main source of income) has also been getting less hours and some days he gets sent home, and any amount of money would help a lot. The stress of not helping my family is heavy.  It’s hard to concentrate on anything else.

*   I have lost my job and am in need of financial assistance to pay bills. I also was not part of the group that received the stimulus package.  Do people know that our parents claim us as dependents, but that doesn’t mean we can depend on them?  That $1200 would have felt like winning the lottery.

*   I am from a family of 7 with parents who are working on a tight budget to support us. My dad’s job, who plays a big part of providing most of the support, isn’t guaranteed because of the high chance of his contract not renewing even though he is a union worker. The money would be helpful for my siblings who will need supplies for school, especially my sister and I who both go to Fullerton College.  Thankfully, we have rice and beans so we have food.

*   I’m torn between finding a job to pay bills and just to pay for necessities (food, water, menstrual products, etc) and monthly bills (insurances, phone, car) and struggling to find part time employment in a field with minimal risk of exposure.  I I help care for my 90 yr old grandmother who is on hospice (high risk for COVID) and live with my mother who is also high risk due to age and pre-existing conditions. But truthfully even if I was able to find employment it would be at the cost of my education, I do not think I would be able to continue maintaining grades/keeping up with course work if I was working while also caring for family members I am responsible for because I am physically capable, their designated health care proxy, and have the most amount of knowledge about medical issues compared to other members of my family.  I feel alone with the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m 18.

*   I’m afraid I will not be able to maintain as time goes on. The insulin I have to buy combined with my everyday bills is proving to be a challenge as income sources for my family and me become uncertain.

*   I have been having to 60 hours every week for the past month to help with the family bills with how hard we’ve been hit due to this virus. I don’t know how long I will be having to do this for, but any help would be great. I am hoping that I won’t have to do this come the fall semester, because I plan on continuing my education in the fall 2020. I’ll be grateful for any amount awarded and I know it will definitely help out.

*   Even with the stimulus check we received, I am able to pay for my rent and car but everything else is on the fence. I’m worried about my bills and rent for the month of May/June. Once we moved everything to remote classes I had to purchase a laptop and that cut into my own savings and not realizing the school would help provide one but even with that it’s like 5 weeks that students didn’t have access. During this time, it’s scary to know how much I have to stretch out a dollar. I used to go to the Fullerton College Food Bank every Tuesday.

*   I just need money to buy groceries. I never realized how much you think about food when you don’t have it.

*   I’m LGBTQ and felt accepted and celebrated as my authentic self at Fullerton College. Now I’m sheltered in place with my family who sent me to conversion therapy and I just cry all the time because this feels like I’m trapped with Dementors and my power to conjure my Patronus is on the campus quad.  I need help.

*   I’m a full time student who’s been unemployed to focus on education with only 1 semi-working parent due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I didn’t qualify for the stimulus check and our rent took their money. We’re struggling. Please help.

*   I’m doing college on a phone.  Everything’s online and my wifi is weak.  I’m doing college on my phone.

*   I need to buy groceries my mom isn’t working right now I only work twice a week and it would really help me to buy groceries for my family.

*   My mom is a single parent and is struggling to provide for my family. She feels like she’s failing us. I could use this emergency grant to help her.

*   To help my parents pay our bills.

*   Honestly, the income side is zero and the expenses seems so overwhelmingly that the emergency grant would barely put a dent in what I owe and need. I still need the money, but if someone else would benefit more, give it to them. I’m drowning and don’t see anyway out.

*   Need to pay remaining balance of the tuition and need to pay rent and other bills. I’m worried I won’t get credit for any of this work if I can’t pay for the tuition.

*   I was working as a server at AMC 20 Fullerton at the time, although I was only working part time the money I earned from tips really helped pay for my bills, rent, and whatever else I could help my mom with. Me and my mom live in a small one bedroom apartment luckily the rent isn’t too overwhelming. With our income combined we were able to make it through. Now since AMC has closed all locations across the U.S. I have no source of income. I was searching for another job but my mom had breast surgery on March 31st, due to complications of her breast cancer. I’ve been taking care of her and if I got another job I wouldn’t be able to be here for my mom. I also don’t want to risk being outside and with the possibility of bringing the virus home to her. She hasn’t been able to work since the surgery and won’t be able to return to work till May 12th, and that’s if her condition gets better. As of right now our source of income is coming from my mom’s sick days that she has saved up. Any small amount would be of great help. Thank you.

*   Our current roommate moved out last minute which means I have to help my mom out with more rent for the next few months. I don’t have a job at the moment so I’m trying to make the money up in any way possible.  Her stimulus check was gone the second it arrived.

*   I know these grants are offered to help keep students enrolled at Fullerton College and thankfully I have already had a wonderful time at Fullerton and will be transferring in Fall. My siblings and I help my mom pay rent/bills and all of us have lost our jobs so we are not able to do much to help her right now (thankfully as a teacher she still has her job), but I have been applying for things I might qualify for right and left  so I can try and help my mom somewhat. I suppose if it has to pertain to College, it’s not a matter of why will it help me now to stay at Fullerton, but what it could do for me so we can make it.

*   I was recently laid off from work so I’m trying to find the best means to financially remain steady during these times.

*   I was laid off last spring, and have been going to school full-time since.  I accept financial aid grants to help me pay for necessities, but have saved enough to get me through the summer. I am currently taking ENGL 280 to hopefully be able to work in the Writing Center in the fall, but now I don’t know if that will happen with everything going on.  However, I am fortunate enough to live with people that can pay bills I cannot pay.  So if someone needs more help than I do, please choose them over me.  I wanted to give another perspective, and while I could benefit from it, there are those that need it more than I do.

*   I was recently laid off from 2 jobs due to the coronavirus. Before, I worked 40-45 hours a week; I now work 11. This distracts from my schoolwork because I relied on that income to purchase necessities.

*   This pandemic has in a way turned my life upside down. My family and I are a family who lives paycheck to paycheck and since we are no longer working bills have been pretty hard to maintain. We have some money saved but, it will only last us for this month. This money would help a lot and it would get some bills paid. My family and I would really appreciate it Fullerton College continues to do so much for their students. We are very lucky!

*   Due to COVID-19 affected my family’s financial situation and the person I relied on did not qualify for the stimulus check and I am relying on credit cards to pay for living essentials and scholarly essentials.

*   On Feburary 28, I was involved in a motor collision while commuting from Fullerton College. I’m a motorcyclist so my injuries were very severe causing me to spend two nights in the ICU at Irvine Medical Center because of brain damage. Last semester I was apart of the Kyoto study abroad trip so in effort to save money, I lowered my insurance policy to liability only. When I returned for spring semester a unexpected accident occurred and I did not revert my insurance back to full coverage in time. Medical bills are starting to be sent my way and unfortunately I have to pay out of pocket until I can settle with the insurance company on the amount they can pay me. The ambulance ride was around $4000 in itself and the CT scans are thousands of dollars as well. I’m glad to be alive but my brain and body received a lot of trauma and I’m afraid I might need more treatment in the future. Luckily I was not at fault for the accident but there’s no telling when I will be able to receive money from my insurance and whether the payout will enough to cover my absurd medical expenses. As of now with this pandemic going, it’s very difficult to find work and my physical injuries still prevent me from doing anything too demanding. I know everybody is dealing with difficult times at the moment and I wish every student the best.

*   I need emergency funds to help me pay for some of my bills and to have a reserved fund for emergency purposes. This fund would help me with the bills I am currently paying like phone bill, insurance, summer school funding, dental/hospital credit card bill, and share with grocery fund for my family.

*   I need the emergency funds in order to pay off my laptop I bought for school when we went remote, and also I need the money for rent/bills, just in case anything tragic happens; I would want to pitch in the emergency money for my family because we have the possibility of getting kicked out.

*   Since the Coronavirus quarantine has started, I lost my job along with my brother. Because of this my mom is the only person in the household with some sort of income to provide for us so any money right now that can help me will also help my family. The money will help not only financially but also mentally as the quarantine has put a strain on all of our minds and will help ease some of that stress.

Jodi Balma is the Honors Coordinator and a Political Science Professor at Fullerton College.

1 reply »

  1. This is a great article which gives us a peek into the struggle that Fullerton College students are facing. I recommend that all faculty share it with those who can help.