By Radwan Farraj
A new wave of COVID emergency funds made their way to CUNY students and colleges last week as the fall semester nears its end. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III), signed into law in March 2021, provided funds for students that are enrolled during the COVID-19 pandemic. CUNY received over $400 million for all its campuses, with Brooklyn College receiving more than $13.1 million for 15,688 students, according to Antonio Marrero, BC’s Director of Financial Aid.
“I believe this is a tremendous opportunity for our Brooklyn College students to have some relief in their time of need during the pandemic,” Marrero wrote in an email to The Vanguard.
CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced the third round of fund dispersal in mid-November, explaining that eligible students would receive a minimum base grant and could opt to have it applied to tuition and fees listed on CUNYFirst or choose to have it sent through direct deposit. HEERF I and HEERF II passed in March and December of 2020, respectively.
Both international and undocumented students are eligible for the emergency funds as long as they are enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a certificate or degree program and currently enrolled in classes, explained Marrero.
HEERF III also allotted CUNY institutional funds that can be used to make up for university expenses that were accrued during the pandemic. A portion of these funds will be spent on minor remodeling for COVID-19 safety, which includes HVAC installation or the purchase of room dividers to increase social distancing inside classrooms, per the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements.
“They get a lot of money for that purpose,” Aharon Grama, Undergraduate Student Government Co-President, told The Vanguard. “We try to use up all the money if possible.”