New Paltz Students to be Allocated $15.9 Million as a Part of COVID Relief Bills

President Joe Biden signs a new COVID relief package that allocates an estimated $19 million to SUNY New Paltz. Photo Courtesy of Pressenza.com.

On March 4 President Joe Biden Signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that was passed by Democrats in Congress without a Republican vote. The package will include $40 billion in funds for American colleges and universities.

Universities in the Hudson Valley will be receiving millions of dollars in aid through this relief package.. New Paltz will be receiving $18.7 million.

The ARP will distribute $2.6 billion, announced Sen. Charles Schumer.

Michele Halstead, vice president of Administration and Finance at SUNY New Paltz and President Donald P. Christain sent out a “Campus Update” via email on March 26. The email addressed the incoming funds and explained how this stimulus package as well as the two others will be and have been used.

The update explained over the past year, three federal acts have provided SUNY New Paltz with federal stimulus funds: In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), in December of 2020 the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), and on March 11, the ARP of 2021 (ARP).

Of these three bills, SUNY New Paltz has been allocated $36.4 million.

The college expects to have an overall revenue shortfall of at least $24 million primarily because of COVID-19 impacts, and the portion of stimulus funding for the institution will be approximately $20.5 million. The additional $15.9 million is allocated for students.

“During summer 2020, New Paltz received and distributed $3.3 million from the CARES Act to 2,074 students enrolled in March 2020 to cover expenses incurred related to COVID-19. Students had to meet all eligibility requirements for Federal Title IV aid,” reads the email. “The campus has received its $3.3 million allocation in CRSSA funds for students and distribution will begin mid-April.” 

What is known about CARES, CRRSA and ARP is that funding can be used to make up lost revenue, and that half on the funds from CARES and ARP must be spent on emergency student financial aid grants. These funds will be available through Sept. 20, 2023. 

Overall, there is $9.3 million that has yet to be distributed that is allocated for student aid. The administration is awaiting further instruction from the U.S. Department of Education and SUNY in regards to the distribution of those funds.

The Hudson Valley region will receive a $219,696,000 grant.

This money is to be used to cover lost revenue from the past year, and pandemic-related spendings like protective equipment, classroom modifications and any technology costs from transitioning to virtual learning including faculty and staff training. 

The federal government has yet to create regulations or rules for the distribution of aid to students.

Being that the information about the bill has only recently been released to the public, almost all details are still unknown.

“While there are many details to be worked out as to how the funding can and will be used, we are grateful that these funds will help support our students and fill the gaps in our campus revenues as a result of the pandemic,” Halstead said. 

“As New York’s colleges, universities and students face over a year of unprecedented hurdles, they do so at a steep cost that it is our responsibility to address and overcome,” Schumer said according to News 10. “In prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, New York’s higher education institutions have ripped massive holes in their budgets and are now facing down financial devastation — and we simply can’t let that happen.” 

Other estimates made by the council for other colleges in the area include: SUNY Orange, $11.8 million; Marist College, $9.2 million; SUNY Ulster, $5.2 million; Mount Saint Mary College, $5.1 million; and SUNY Sullivan, $3.6 million.

 “I’m hoping that one of the things this federal money will be spent on is making sure that all of the programs that are in place continue, that there will be no cuts to education,” said President of the New York State United Teachers Union Andy Pallotta.

About Zoe Woolrich 15 Articles
Zoe Woolrich is a first-year media management major with a minor in film and video studies. This is her first semester with The Oracle. She concentrates on writing about politics and those who are underrepresented, as well as documenting concerts through both writing and photography. She enjoys collecting Squishmallows and making earrings for her Depop business.