Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), recently passed by Congress and signed by the President, there is $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is allocating 89% HEERF monies to institutions in two portions, similar to the CARES Act. However, this time, the ED identified the minimum amount each institution must reserve for emergency grants to students, which is the “same amount” institutions received under the Student Portion of the CARES Act.
SUNY College of Optometry received $59, 359 HEERF 2 funding to give out as direct grants to out neediest students. SUNY Central Administration developed a plan for all SUNY Colleges but since Optometry is a Grad/Professional school only we do not have Pell grant eligible students. After consultation with SUNY Central Administration Audit division they approved a plan for Optometry to award funding to its neediest students. Optometry already awards partial tuition waivers to students who supply parent’s income information that confirms they are coming from an economically disadvantaged background. For the 2020-21 award year the college had 70 students that had parents income under $62,000 per year. Each of those students was awarded an equal amount of $848 for a total of $59,360. (The college will supply the additional dollar needed to make all awards equal)
Each student who receives funding will receive an e-mail with the following wording:
“In response to the coronavirus pandemic, funds have been made available through the CRRSAA Act to award emergency grants to students for expenses related to the any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus. Eligible expenses include tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or childcare. The Campus has deemed you eligible to receive an emergency grant in the amount of $848. This is not a loan and will not need to be paid back and will not affect your financial aid award amounts for academic year 2021-2022. Students must understand it is their responsibility to notify Vito Cavallaro in the financial aid office immediately if they will not incur expenses that meet or exceed the amount of their emergency grant.”
The Bursar’s office will announce that checks are available for pick up to each awardee and confirm that all checks are cashed by selected students.