Supervisor Proposes Aid for MATC Students Facing Housing Insecurity
Sup. Steve Shea, also an MATC instructor, pushing $100,000 for financial assistance fund.
The Milwaukee County Board’s Committee on Finance approved a $100,000 contribution to a fund set up to support Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) students to pay for their education.
The Faculty and Students Together (FAST) Fund was created six years ago by the MATC teachers’ union, AFT Local 212, to provide no-strings-attached assistance to MATC students struggling to pay for their education. A resolution authored by Sup. Steven Shea, who teaches at MATC, would have the county contribute $100,000 to this fund to be used for students experiencing housing insecurity.
“Milwaukee Area Technical College is the only college in Wisconsin that has a majority of its students are people of color,” Shea said during the committee meeting Thursday. “Many of them come with all kinds of economic challenges attending school; some of our students are homeless; many of our students are single parents… They’re not asking for a handout as so much as a hand-up.”
The county has made contributions to the FAST Fund in previous years. But Shea’s resolution, if approved, would mark the largest to date. The finance committee approved the resolution five to one with Sup. Steve Taylor voting in opposition.
Liz Franczyk, director of the FAST Fund, told supervisors that in the first year of the fund 26 students were provided $7,500 each in aid, and this year the fund is on track to support approximately 2,000 students with roughly half a million in aid.
“We are often the only help they can get to pay for thousands of dollars of textbooks and supplies,” Franczyk said. “We are the only place most students can turn to pay off small debts to the college in order to register for classes, receive a transcript or even access scholarship money.”
More than 90% of FAST Fund recipients live in Milwaukee County, Franczyk told the committee, more than 70% are women, more than 60% are Black and more than 50% make less than $23,000 a year. A full-time MATC student will pay between $2,700 and $3,500 a semester.
One of those students also provided testimony to the committee. Jasmine Sanchez, a first-generation college student, said the FAST Fund helped her continue her education, helping her pay for her textbooks when she couldn’t afford them.
“I have been helped by the FAST Fund in the most important and rewarding way possible,” said Sanchez. “They have helped me secure my education.”
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