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The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

Book Vouchers Are Out, Alternatives Are in

Photo by: Sara Ohler
Outside of the FCC bookstore on Aug. 24, 2023.

Book vouchers are no longer offered to Fresno City College students at the campus bookstore, but there are other options.

The vouchers began in response to the financial strain of COVID-19 and were offered until the Spring 2023 semester, when they were discontinued.

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) vouchers, funded by Fresno City College, were free awards of $250 given to full-time students, while part-time students received less.

During the pandemic, I received roughly $175 per semester from the CARES HEERF. I was enrolled in six units or less each semester, but even that small amount helped offset the cost of textbooks and other school supplies.

Sarah Valentino, FCC bookstore manager, offers some reassurance to students, stating that the school is offering other alternatives to the HEERF vouchers. 

“There are definitely other programs out there they can apply for,” Valentino said.

Some alternatives, like EOPS, Next Up, Reading Beyond, Associated Student Government (ASG) book loans, as well as veterans scholarships, make books and school supplies more affordable.

However, many new and returning students weren’t aware of these vouchers.

“Honestly, in my opinion, I didn’t get to experience it, but it would’ve been nice to experience having that money,”  FCC student and nursing major Pilar Rosales said. “We could all use an extra hand getting books, supplies, or snacks.”

While it’s understandable that some students would be disappointed, others had a different outlook on the vouchers being discontinued.

“It kinda makes sense,” Chris Lopez, computer information technology major, said, “because we were kind of bouncing back from the pandemic. It’s nice to have, but I understand if they want to allocate money elsewhere.”

If I’m being honest, this sounds like a reasonable trade-off. Yes, the book vouchers have been discontinued, and yes, they were helpful, but there are plenty of other options to help offset the cost of books and school supplies.

Even though returning students knew about the book vouchers, some may not have taken advantage of them. Out of FCC’s total of about 24,000 students, only an estimated 8,700 used the vouchers during the Spring 2023 semester.

“You would be surprised how many people don’t touch their vouchers,” Sarah Valentino said. 

Considering the financial hardships many students endure, it’s genuinely surprising that more of them didn’t take advantage of the vouchers.

Since the discontinuation of the HEERF vouchers, business at the bookstore has slowed down. 

“We’re still very busy,” Valentino said, “but now they can look other places to buy books, like Amazon or Chegg.” 

Students can find more information about EOPS grants and emergency loans both online, or in person at the Student Services building, in room ST-101.





*Photo changed from original on Aug. 24, 2023 to better reflect the topic of the article and abbreviated “HEERF” from the fourth paragraph*

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About the Contributors
Matthew Juarez, Reporter
Matt Juarez was born and raised in Fresno, California. At age 35, he is returning to Fresno City College, pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. His goals are to become an editor for a major publication company. He has been writing creatively ever since he was a small child; he can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t writing short stories, comics, songs, poetry, etc. In his late-teens to mid-twenties, he wrote, recorded and performed original music in a local band with a close friend, as well as writing and performing original solo material. After that, he began performing spoken word poetry in 2014, and to this day he continues writing and performing his own poetry. He has performed his work live at various coffee shops, bars, restaurants, used bookstores, poetry slams, and performance venues around the Central Valley. In early 2019, he began working as a part-time editor for a small publishing company called New Life Clarity Publishing. Ever since he returned to college, he’s been taking classes in different fields he hasn't explored previously, looking to find something new that he’s passionate about, which ultimately led him to becoming a reporter for The Rampage. He’s also participated in several creative writing workshops. He's taken acting classes and performed in actor’s showcases at Fresno City College, as well as landing a small role in the November 2019 production of The Thanksgiving Play. That same year, he starred in a short horror film called Reformation, which was screened at several short film festivals in California. The Fall 2023 semester is his first semester back on campus since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and he has found it very rewarding to be attending in-person classes once again.
Sara Ohler
Sara Ohler, Opinion Editor
Sara Ohler is a 24 year-old journalism major who was born and raised in Fresno, CA. After graduating high school in 2017, she didn't know what she wanted to spend her time studying. She decided to take time off of college, but still wanted to pursue education and went on to become an esthetician. After a few years, she didn't feel challenged within her practice anymore and craved something more, so she decided she would go back to college.  She initially joined the Rampage on a whim, and became an editor in her first semester and is now the editor-in-chief in her third semester. She feels lucky and grateful to have jumped on this opportunity when she did. Sara's passion for writing started around the age of 8, which stemmed from her love of reading. A few years later she would discover a passion for photography. She wrote in her high school newspaper and loved it and she feels lucky to have been given the opportunity to experience what writing for a publication is like. Though she hasn't decided which university she would like to go to, she plans on transferring to one with a good journalism program where she can dive in to the realm of investigative journalism, photojournalism and music journalism. She has quite a few different hobbies, but you will most likely catch her photographing concerts, reading in a local cafe, or playing Dungeons and Dragons with her pals.

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