Reporter’s notebook

Gearing up for the next stimulus bill

Higher education organizations — including the American Association of Community Colleges — are busy advocating for additional funding through another federal stimulus bill expected from Congress.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) said it appreciated the funds anticipated through the recently signed CARES Act, but states and public higher education institutions will need much more as they expect deep budget resulting from less state revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group specifically asked lawmakers for direct grants to governors that are earmarked for public colleges and universities. 

“If states cut higher education funding to fill budget gaps left by the COVID-19 emergency, progress on state goals could come to a halt — or even reverse — at a time when more Americans need education and training beyond high school,” SHEEO wrote. “With nearly three in four students attending public colleges and universities, deep budget cuts stemming from the COVID-19 emergency will leave a lasting mark on the American economy and take the deepest toll on our most vulnerable student populations.”

Many states already underfund public higher education, which has strained institutions, SHEEO said. It noted that financial resource challenges are particularly hard for community colleges and open-access public universities, which educate significant numbers of low-income and first-generation students and students of color.

CUNY’s $3.25M student emergency fund

In New York City, corporate and philanthropic donors are providing a total of $3.25 million in seed funding for a City University of New York (CUNY) emergency fund to help college students facing financial hardships due to the health pandemic.

CUNY, which includes seven community colleges, would provide $500 grants beginning the week of April 20 to eligible students through the fund, which is accepting donations. The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation and the James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation each contributed $1 million toward the fund.

“The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating economic impact on many of our students, and this unprecedented emergency fund will provide rapid-response financial support to those who need it most,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

The emergency fund is the latest financial resource CUNY is providing to its most vulnerable students in response to the COVID-19 crisis. For example, about 1,600 CUNY community college students who were issued $400 campus cafeteria food vouchers through a city council pilot will receive money as a payout they can spend anywhere for food. 

Colorado to offer in-state tuition to military members

A new law in Colorado will make all servicemembers, veterans, their spouses and their children under age 22 eligible for in-state tuition. It also covers survivors of deceased servicemembers.

The law applies to the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), which spans 13 colleges. More than 8,000 military-related students attend a CCCS program. Military families move frequently, making in-state tuition residency requirements hard to meet, the system noted.

“We’re grateful to the legislature and the governor for supporting servicemembers and veterans with this meaningful change to make our programs more accessible,” said Chancellor Joe Garcia.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.