CROWNPOINT, NM - Navajo Technical University will be distributing federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist students as the university has transitioned its course delivery to emergency distance education. The funding will be distributed to part-time and full-time students and will help supplement other resources NTU has established to accommodate persistence under the distance education model.
Higher education funding under the CARES Act has been benchmarked to assist students with resources needed to complete the semester, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. Under NTU’s plan, full-time students will receive up to $625 while part-time students are eligible to receive up to $350.
“Our students primarily come from rural communities on the Navajo Nation where the Internet is difficult to access. Travel time, in many cases, can be more than 30 minutes to reach a location that has limited service,” explained NTU Provost Dr. Colleen W. Bowman. “These funds will go a long way in keeping our students committed to completing the semester and staying on track for graduating.”
NTU identified through a survey that approximately 26% of NTU students don’t have access to either the Internet or a computer. As a result, Dr. Bowman believes many students will utilize CARES funding to address each need. If not, NTU has been working diligently to provide resources to students that address equity and access, such as establishing hot spots on three of its locations and implementing a computer device check out system.
Students without the means to access the hot spots have the option of utilizing the NTU Homework Express. Forty-one percent of students have to travel over 40 miles to access an NTU location so a drop off and pick up system was organized for hard copy assignments. The Homework Express will serve dual purpose and will function as a mobile hotspot where students can access the Internet while parked in their vehicles next to each drop off station.
NTU’s Information Technology (IT) department is in the process of expanding the university’s broadband infrastructure after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted temporary access and use of an unassigned spectrum to provide more broadband service on the Navajo Nation. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez granted NTU special temporary authority on April 17, 2020 to test and provide Internet connectivity for 60 days. NTU will focus its effort on deploying wireless technology throughout the region and getting students connected online.
“Our students are willing to learn and they want to finish what they started,” exclaimed Dr. Bowman, who credited faculty for changing their course delivery to include online, telecommunication, and traditional mail to accommodate learning. “We have to be able to be innovative in how we meet their needs so we can be effective in not only completing the semester, but preparing students for the summer and fall.”
Registration for summer and fall courses begins on April 27 at NTU. Instruction begins June 8, 2020. For more information regarding students receiving CARES relief funding, please contact Daniel Vandever at email@example.com or call Delores Becenti at 505-387-7404.