Over a Quarter of CUNY Students are Receiving Aid From Federal Pandemic Emergency Grants

Photo By Angel Adegbesan

By Emiree Campbell

Last week, the City University of New York began to distribute $118 million in federal emergency grants to almost 150,000 students, as part of the pandemic relief package passed by Congress in December and released to academic institutions this month. 

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) is the second package of federal relief funds that provides grants averaging $750 to assist students in  meeting academic and living expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we approach the end of this very challenging academic year, I am pleased that so many CUNY students will be getting a second round of much-needed financial help from the federal government,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in a press release issued by CUNYCommunications. “Our students have shown tremendous resilience since the start of the pandemic but they continue to face economic hardships that can hinder their academic progress. The federal relief is vital to our continuing efforts to help them stay on track.”

According to the report, almost half of CUNY students qualify for the CRRSAA emergency grants, with the typical amount of aid ranging from $600 to $1,100. These amounts also are contingent upon students’ financial dependency part-time or full-time  status as a student and/or whether they are responsible for children.

The federal government revamped eligibility criteria to allow more students to qualify for emergency grants in this month’s round of aid. According to CUNY, direct deposits will start appearing on bank accounts by May 7 and checks would be disbursed the same day and sent through the mail.

The report states that CUNY colleges are keeping five percent of the funds for future “discretionary awards” to students, with the option that the federal government may allocate to them to international students, Dreamers and other undocumented students for the first time. CUNY provided $118 million in CARES Act funds to 160,977 students in the beginning of the pandemic, with an average of $736 per student in aid.

In a joint effort, the university and its individual campuses raised $17 million for the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund and relief funds started by CUNY colleges. Those funds were distributed as grants to thousands of students, including undocumented and international students who did not qualify for CARES Act relief money.

According to CUNY, the CARES Act also grants the university $118 million for the purchase of computers, tablets, and internet hotspots for students to work adequately in a  remote setting, a growth of mental health and wellness services and tuition and fee refunds.
To learn more about the CRRSAA, visit the “CRRSAA Student Emergency Grant” page on the CUNY website.

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