December 2, 2021

College to refund $9.8 million to students

Logo provided by SUNY Cortland

SUNY Cortland is about to receive its first installment of $6.3 million in federal stimulus money, said Anna Addonisio, the university’s vice president for finance and management.

About half of that money, issued through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES, can be used toward “eligible student expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, including housing, food, course materials, technology, health care and childcare,” Addonisio said.

The other half of the CARES money will go toward campus funding, but federal officials have not yet explained how this money can be used, she said.

At the same time, the university is refunding $9.8 million to students for services they are not using because of the closure of the campus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The stimulus money cannot be used toward the refunds, Addonisio said.

The university calculated the refunds based on the number of days classes were in session this semester – about 50% of them as of March 19, the day campus closed. On-campus students who did not remain will receive refunds of 50% for housing, or about $5.6 million.

Student life center, athletic, transportation and other fees will also be refunded 50%. Meal plans refunds will be “based on a prorated 50% and unused portion of dining dollars,” and total about $2.8 million, Addonisio said.

Tuition will not be refunded, she said, because students are taking online classes.

Students who are struggling financially may also be eligible for help through the College Foundation, said Peter Perkins, vice president of student advancement, during a quarterly college council meeting on Monday.

The foundation had fronted $100,000 for the emergency fund, and continues to solicit matching funds from alumni.

A questionnaire sent to students indicated that food and housing were their two main reasons for financial hardship, but technology expenses were also frequently mentioned, he said.

About 200 students have applied for assistance from the fund, said C. Gregory Sharer, vice president of student affairs.