You are reading

More Than 50,000 CUNY Students and Recent Grads Will Have Their Debt Wiped Clean

LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City is part of the CUNY system (Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson)

July 30, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The City University of New York (CUNY) will wipe out the debt of 50,000 current students and recent grads who experienced hardships during the pandemic.

CUNY will erase as much as $125 million outstanding tuition and fee balances through the “CUNY Comeback Program,” CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The program aims to remove financial barriers to education and economic mobility. Many CUNY students come from communities that were the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Students’ debt to CUNY nearly doubled during the pandemic.

Eligible students and recent graduates who have unpaid tuition and fee balances will have their remaining balances cleared automatically by early August in most cases.

CUNY is automatically forgiving outstanding tuition and fee balances for students in any of three categories: students determined to have a hardship, such as those eligible for Pell Grants and the New York State Tuition Assistance Program; students who graduated from CUNY after the national emergency was declared on March 13 and who owe any outstanding balance from the Spring 2020 semester through the Spring 2021 semester; and students who have an outstanding balance of $100 or less per semester for the Spring 2020 through Spring 2021 semesters.

Recent grads and students who dropped out after taking classes between March 13 and the end of Spring 2021 semester are also eligible. The debt forgiveness will wipe clean balances from the Spring, Summer and Fall 2020 semesters and the Spring 2021 semester.

At least 50,000 students are expected to have their debt erased. The average amount students owe is about $2,000, according to Cuomo’s office.

The balances are expected to be erased automatically by early August to allow students to register for Fall 2021 classes and obtain their official transcripts. Students will be notified via email when balances are cleared.

Thousands of other students who accrued debt during the same period, but were not eligible for financial aid—and therefore will not automatically have their debts erased—can apply to the CUNY Comeback forgiveness program as well. They will need to prove they experienced financial hardship.

The application will be available in early August. Campus financial aid offices will review the completed applications to determine eligibility.

The initiative is funded by federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, part of the pandemic CARES Act passed by Congress. The program is believed to be the largest student institutional debt-forgiveness measure of its kind in the country, according to CUNY.

“I view this initiative as more than just good policy; it also affirms the recognition that challenges still exist for many New Yorkers, and it helps to fulfill the moral imperative that is implicit in CUNY’s historic mandate to provide access to a quality education for all New Yorkers, regardless of background or means,” Matos Rodríguez said in a letter to the CUNY community.

CUNY has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving approximately 500,000 students.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Queens Public Library celebrates Black History Month with nearly 150 programs highlighting Black resistance, culture

Feb. 2, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

Throughout February, Queens Public Library will celebrate “Black Resistance” – the theme of its 2023 Black History Month observance – with nearly 150 comprehensive programs and initiatives, including theater performances, author talks, and art workshops for all ages, spotlighting various aspects of Black heritage, culture and resilience. 

Popular places where you can watch the Big Game in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘Limitless possibility’: BP Richards announces community visioning workshops on redevelopment of Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens Village

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. and Empire State Development on Tuesday, Jan. 31, announced the launch of a series of community visioning workshops that will be held to hear input from eastern Queens residents about the redevelopment of the 50-acre Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens Village. 

The first community visioning workshop will be held on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at P.S./I.S. 208 located at 74-30 Commonwealth Blvd. in Glen Oaks.

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.