The U.S. Department of Education has sent SUNY Plattsburgh $5,258,169 in coronavirus relief money under the $2 trillion CARES Act, which President Trump signed into law in late March. The CARES Act requires at least half of that money to go to students as emergency financial aid, so at least $2,629,085 will help SUNY Plattsburgh students cover expenses like food, housing and health care.
No one from SUNY Plattsburgh’s administration was available for an interview late Friday. However, they expect more than 3,500 students to be eligible for the money and the school has just begun to process their applications.
Some Vermont institutions are farther along in the process of getting relief money into their students’ pockets. University of Vermont students had until Memorial Day to apply for their school’s $3,529407 in emergency aid, and UVM says it’s making decisions as quickly as possible about who should receive it. Meanwhile, Northern Vermont University had $966,171 in CARES Act student aid at its disposal, most of which it actually gave out a month ago. NVU had already awarded $812,550 by May 15 to students at both its Lyndon and Johnson campuses.
Officials at SUNY Plattsburgh had a simple explanation for disparities like these. They wrote on Friday that each college or university has needed to develop its own individual plan for paying its students. These plans are then subject to not only state approval — a process whose length can vary — but also approval from the higher education system the school is part of, if it is part of one. For example, there are 64 colleges and universities in the SUNY system, so those dozens of different schools — including SUNY Plattsburgh — may have needed to wait longer than schools elsewhere for their plans to clear both regulatory steps.
The $3 trillion HEROES Act includes even more money for colleges, universities and their students.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed it last month, but the President and leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate have declared the HEROES Act dead on arrival.