The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university system with almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League schools combined. Given that many CUNY students come from families that were hardest hit from the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced on July 29, the CUNY Comeback Program, a sweeping plan to eliminate up to $125 million in unpaid debt for at least 50,000 students who attended CUNY and suffered financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor in announcing the new plan said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hardships in the lives of so many New Yorkers, and our students were among those most impacted. This landmark new program eliminates millions of dollars in unpaid debt, providing much-needed relief to tens of thousands of CUNY students as they work to get back on their feet after the pandemic and plan for their futures.”
Additionally, The program will be funded through federal stimulus assistance allocated to CUNY through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December 2020.
“The objective of the CUNY Comeback Program is to remove financial barriers to access the education New Yorkers of limited means need to move up the economic ladder.” The new agenda will attend to the focus of CUNY students and recent graduates to move ahead in pursuit of their educational and career objectives without the specter of unpaid tuition and fees. ” Said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
The eligibility criteria for qualifying students can be adjusted, as well as the tens of thousands of students who meet the below criteria will automatically have their tuition and fees eliminated in August 2021. According to CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
These are the criteria to be applied:
- Students determined to have hardship, using criteria similar to what CUNY employed to allocate federal Student Emergency grants in spring 2020 and spring 2021.
- This may also include students who are eligible for the state Tuition Assistance Program but did not meet eligibility requirements for the maximum award.
- Students who graduated from CUNY since the national emergency was declared on March 13, 2020, and owe any outstanding balance from spring 2020 through spring 2021.
- Students who have an outstanding balance of $100 or less per semester, for any of the spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.