CUNY School of Professional Studies Petrie Emergency Grant distributions increased 896% in fiscal year 2020 compared to last. The college dispensed nearly $194,000 and the applications increased from 35 last year to 389 in this one.
COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the biggest decline in the GDP since the Great Depression in the U.S. economy’s second quarter of 2020. Many businesses closed and consumer spending is down as reported by Reuters.com. This decline in the economy may be the catalyst for the tremendous rise in emergency grant applications.
“Scholarship funds are definitely a priority,” said Jennifer Grace Lee, Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Services at CUNY SPS. “Especially now, there is a more critical focus on emergency funding during this time of COVID.”
“The grant provided financial and psychological relief as the assistance covering my bills help me be in a better state of mind,” said a Human Relations senior who received the grant earlier this semester and preferred to maintain anonymity about their financial situation. “I am unemployed and unemployment benefits without the additional $600 are a joke.”
“Our #1 goal for our students is to see them graduate,” said Lee. “When we think about all our students are facing, from obligations with family, work, and school, we really want to figure out how we can remove as many stressors as possible so students can focus on and be successful in their schoolwork and really reach that ultimate goal of finishing their degree.”
The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation’s goal is to increase opportunity for low-income New Yorkers by supporting them in times of short-term financial need. “The Petrie Emergency Grant is something we had to apply for,” said Lee. “We aggressively pursue as many funding opportunities as possible to support our students.” The funds the grant provides help students with unexpected crises such as a job loss, theft of computer, overdue bills, or any emergency with supporting documentation.
The Petrie Emergency Grant approval rate for 2020 is 47% due to the number of applications deemed incomplete because of missing supporting documentation. “We really try to work with the students,” said Theresa Ortiz, Scholarship Specialist at CUNY School of Professional Studies. ”We set up phone calls and emails and if they are not understanding the documentation that is needed, we offer a counseling component as well, to drive them through the process.” Submitting all required supporting documentation increases the number of approved applications to 87%. 155 awards have been granted in 2020 with the average award amount at $1,390.95.
“My hope is that any student who has a need knows about this resource,” said Lee. “We know there are a lot of needs during this time and I hope that a student would never hesitate to ask us for help because there are so many resources and so many people who care deeply.”