American Rescue Plan Gives Relief to Students

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer meets with Acting President Dennis Craig, Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, Chair of Otsego County Legislature and David Bliss.

Rachel Dobkin, Staff Writer |

In a meeting on Thursday, Apr. 8, U.S. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer laid out the American Rescue Plan for Otsego County, which was in response to the hurdles created by the pandemic. Out of the $19 million that Otsego County will be receiving for their institutions of higher education, an estimated $15,766,000 will go to SUNY Oneonta.

In a statement released from Allison Biasotti, Schumer’s Press Secretary, the senator 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 the federal government’s responsibility to address and overcome. In prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, New York’s higher education institutions, like SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College, have ripped massive holes in their budgets and are now facing down financial devastation – and we simply can’t let that happen.”

Acting President of SUNY Oneonta, Dennis Craig, also made a remark in the statement. He said, “I was pleased to meet with Senator Schumer and fellow local leaders to discuss the needs of higher education and our regional economy. This is an important conversation for Oneonta, where our colleges are among the largest employers. I appreciate the senator’s time and am encouraged to have his support as we work to move SUNY Oneonta and the region forward.”

Colleen Brannan, Chief of Staff to the Acting President, spoke on behalf of Dennis Craig in regards to SUNY Oneonta’s plans moving forward. She said, “The college is currently waiting on SUNY and NYS Division of Budget guidance regarding parameters of use for both the $7.85 million institutional shares and the $8.0 million student emergency aid share.

The student emergency aid grants will have a beneficial impact on students who may be eligible to receive these funds. The college’s budget will also be helped by these funds; however, it remains to be seen exactly how the funds will be utilized in supporting the college’s ongoing efforts to meet the financial challenges resulting from the pandemic.”

Although $7.8 million is designated to the institution, “this amount, combined with the institutional funds received and to be received under CARES Act and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), is still less than the total student refunds paid last year. However, it is still a significant help in the institution’s efforts to weather the financial challenges resulting from the pandemic,” Brannan said.

The $8.0 million going to student emergency grants will hopefully help out as much as it possibly can. Brannan said, “Students and their families have certainly experienced a wide range of personal financial impacts resulting from the pandemic. Our hope is that these funds will allow students to persist in their SUNY Oneonta education.”

Although the pandemic has left and continues to leave scars that go beyond financial support, this federal funding does give some relief. Acting President Craig leaves a direct quote, “SUNY Oneonta and the higher education community are grateful for the federal funding relief provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The assistance will go a long way in helping with the critical budget gaps created by the pandemic and allow us to get back to the core mission of safely educating and serving our students.”

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