New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday the CUNY Comeback Program, an effort that will clear up to $125 million in student debt owed to the City University of New York system.
The initiative, approved in a July 6 meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees, is expected to wipe out the balances of at least 50,000 students using federal COVID-19 relief funds. The average student debt balance to the system is about $2,000.
CUNY chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez called the program a “landmark measure” that will “enhance CUNY’s important contributions to New York’s economic recovery.”
“CUNY students showed their great resilience in the face of the immeasurable hardships they faced over the past 16 months, from employment and income loss to food and housing insecurity, amid an unprecedented health crisis that brought sickness and tragedy to thousands of New York families,” he said in a press release. “This compassionate action will allow CUNY students and recent graduates to move ahead in pursuit of their educational and career objectives without the specter of unpaid tuition and fees.”
The release noted that during the pandemic, student debt owed to the university system nearly doubled.
Students and graduates are eligible for debt relief if they were enrolled at a CUNY institution from March 13, 2020, through the spring 2021 semester. Unpaid balances to the system from spring, summer and fall 2020 and spring 2021 will be wiped clean.