In wake of the recent stimulus package brought forth under the Biden administration in March, many individuals and organizations received increased funds to help alleviate some of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, BU was given approximately $35 million in funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. Half of this money will go to Pell Grant-eligible students through the financial aid office. The Pell Grant is given to students whose families make under $60,000 per year and gives up to $6,495 to eligible students who filled out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. The other half of the funds will be funneled directly into the University to reimburse itself for some of the expenses incurred that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and safety precautions.
Additionally, the new stimulus bill lists dependent adults and 17-year-olds as eligible individuals to receive a stimulus check. The adult who claims the dependent on their taxes will receive the $1,400 check in addition to any other stimulus-related funds. Students need not apply to receive the checks, as they will go directly to the people who claimed them as a dependent, according to Congress.
According to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU, the new stimulus will relieve the financial burden for both students and the University.
“We are now awaiting guidance from [New York state] and SUNY on when the funding will be made available and how it may be used and allocated,” Yarosh said. “What we do know is that the campus will eventually receive $35,541,924 that is to be evenly split between aid to students and institutional expenses related to the pandemic.”
Yarosh described the negative financial implications COVID-19 has had on the University.
“To date, campus has incurred costs related to the pandemic exceeding $71 million,” Yarosh said. “This includes direct expenses related to the pandemic such as [COVID-19] tests, supplies and administration, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, quarantine and isolation housing and related expenses, [et cetera]. It also includes spring 2020 student refunds at the onset of the pandemic as well as fee reductions and an ongoing loss in revenue due to a drop in housing occupancy and international student enrollment.”
In addition, BU has also lost a significant amount of state fiscal support, according to Yarosh.
“Campus has also experienced a significant reduction in state support during the 2020-21 year that may or may not be restored,” Yarosh said. “Until we receive instruction and guidance from [New York state] and SUNY, we don’t know how many students will be receiving money from the [American Rescue Plan] funding, but it will be half of the total amount received and will be disbursed when received up to September 2023, as noted in the act.”
Dominic Micalizzi, a junior majoring in social work, noted that students will now be able to set money aside for savings.
“I think that it’s well overdue that college students are getting some economic relief,” Micalizzi said. “For the first time in a long time, many students will be able to have money to save after not being eligible for the first two stimulus packages.”
Peter Kennedy, a junior majoring in history, claimed that the bill will help ease the financial struggles of many BU students.
“I think it’s great that students are finally getting some relief,” Kennedy said. “It seems long overdue. Almost everyone I know, myself included, is struggling to get by. Being a student in the United States was hard enough before the pandemic, now it’s even worse. I hope this will ease the burden on students. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”