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LI colleges to get $267M in federal stimulus aid

Students walk through the Stony Brook University campus

Students walk through the Stony Brook University campus on Aug. 27, 2020. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

WASHINGTON — Colleges and universities on Long Island will get a total of about $267 million from the federal stimulus package to aid students and institutions struggling under the pandemic, according to U.S. Department of Education figures released Tuesday.

Two thirds of those funds will go to eight public institutions, including the three State University of New York schools in Stony Brook, Farmingdale and Old Westbury. The rest will be sent to 11 private nonprofit schools, including Long Island University, Adelphi and Hofstra.

The top three recipients among the 19 Long Island institutions awarded funds include Stony Brook University with $53.8 million, Suffolk County Community College with $45.3 million and Nassau Community College with $38.4 million.

The money comes from a $36 billion nationwide fund for emergency financial aid grants for students and colleges included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, called the American Rescue Plan, that Democrats proposed and passed in March without Republican support.

It is the third infusion of federal funds to help students and colleges. The first two were included in bipartisan relief and stimulus legislation passed in March and December of 2020.

"These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation’s students — particularly those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate, and pursue their careers," said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement.

But colleges and universities schools are still working through the rules and regulations, and waiting for final disposition on the amounts and delivery dates as many of them look to reopen classrooms for in-person courses in the fall.

"We understand these are estimated amounts. The final allocated amounts may vary somewhat. We also don't yet know when the funds will be available for drawdown and disbursement," said Stony Brook University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow in an email.

Hofstra spokeswoman Karla Schuster said in an email that the school looks forward to the aid — listed as $16.1 million — to help it address the pandemic’s impact. "The University is still reviewing the newly released guidelines for the American Rescue Act funding," she said.

"The pandemic has made financial uncertainty for students much worse," said Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) in a statement. "This plan requires that most of this funding must be used to assist college students facing financial difficulties."

Half of the total $267 million funding for Long Island institutions — about $134 million — must be used for emergency aid grants to students with financial needs. Institutions must use the other half for outreach to students who might need assistance and for COVID-19 suppression.

But the colleges and universities also can cover institutional costs such as lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses, technology costs for transitioning to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll, according to the Education Department.

At Stony Brook, Sheprow said, "The student support will once again be directed to students with demonstrated financial need, as it has been in the two previous distributions of federal relief funds."

She added, "For the institutional support, we will be required by SUNY to allocate $10M to our dormitory income fund (DIRF), to bring the debt service ratios back to minimum required levels. We will use the residual funds (approximately $16.8M) to cover some of our unreimbursed COVID-related expenses and lost revenues."

Other Long Island colleges and universities in line for funding include Farmingdale State College, $22.3 million; Long Island University, $21.8 million; SUNY Old Westbury, $16.8 million, and Adelphi University, $14.7 million.

Also receiving funding will be the New York Institute of Technology, $12.2 million; Saint Joseph's College, $11 million; Molloy College, $9 million; New York College of Health Professions, $1.6 million, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy, $1.4 million.

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