PLATTSBURGH — Following passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) last month, local educational institutions are set to receive new federal funding for student grants and institutional costs.
"This is just more positive news, again, that will help us survive — not just help us, but help all colleges and institutions survive this very challenging time," Clinton Community College President Ray DiPasquale said.
$45 MILLION IN NORTH COUNTRY
According to a press release from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik's (R-Schuylerville) office, public and non-profit colleges and universities in the North Country are set to receive a combined $45 million from the latest COVID-19 relief bill.
CCC is slated for $1,545,848 while SUNY Plattsburgh will get $8,423,237. Other tri-county schools and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services set to receive funding include:
• Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington BOCES: $128,983.
• North Country Community College: $2,219,613.
• Paul Smith’s College: $1,357,184.
• Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES: $20,845.
SAME DOLLAR AMOUNT
Funds were allocated based on a formula that takes into account an institution's relative shares of Pell Grant recipients, non-Pell Grant recipients and students enrolled exclusively online prior to the pandemic, according to the press release from Stefanik's office.
At least 50 percent of funding appropriated last year through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act had to go toward student grants. DiPasquale said CARES Act funds were still be utilized to assist both students and the college itself.
He pointed to guidance from the American Association of Community College which says that, this time around, institutions must dedicate "at least the same dollar amount to students with the new funds that it was required to provide in student emergency grants under CARES."
Given the schools are set to receive more funding through the CRRSAA, that comes out to about 30 percent or less, though any money received based on online students must go entirely toward student grants.
"Obviously we’re very excited about the possibilities (of new funding) at a time when, certainly, enrollments are down across the system by about 20 percent and so this additional funding will help with those issues," DiPasquale said.
SUNY Plattsburgh Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs Ken Knelly said $2.6 million of the college's new funding will be designated for student grants.
"We were proud to be among the first SUNY campuses to develop a distribution plan," he noted.
Under the CRRSAA, the remaining $5.7 million SUNY Plattsburgh is set to receive can be used for institutional costs that "can include lost revenue, technology associated with distance education, faculty and staff training, payroll and student support activities related to COVID-19," Knelly continued.
"The infusion of this key federal funding is much welcomed and will help SUNY Plattsburgh through this difficult year. We welcome this assistance as we work through added costs for testing, other provisions for health and safety, as well as reductions in direct state support and state scholarships that are not yet fully known.
"The spring 2020 schedule changes alone generated $7.2 million in refunds."
Stefanik expressed pride in announcing the funding.
"Our higher education institutions in the North Country were hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I worked to deliver this much-needed additional funding that allows them to continue educating and inspiring the next generation of leaders.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted how universities had ripped holes in their budgets to prioritize health and safety.
"We need to ensure that our world-class institutions of higher education right here in New York are equipped with the assistance they need to make it through this crisis and thrive.”
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) described the funding as an essential lifeline.
"I’m proud to have secured this funding and I will continue working to deliver resources that our higher education institutions need to weather the COVID-19 crisis.”
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