Stony Brook University’s campus in the Fall of 2019. Stony Brook University students can apply for aid through the Student Emergency Support Fund which has been revitalized by federal relief money and fundraising. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

By Sara Ruberg and Maya Brown 

Stony Brook University is offering students funding through the Student Emergency Support Fund, which was revitalized by federal relief money and fundraising when coronavirus concerns hit campus.

About 1,100 students have completed applications related to COVID-19 financial needs, Rick Gatteau, vice president for student affairs and dean of students said in a June 2 webcast.

“We were getting approximately 70 applications each night, which we gave to about 8 staff members who made calls to the students every day,” Ellen Driscoll, interim associate dean of students, said during the June 2 webcast. “It slowed down once the semester ended, which has been nice because it gives us a chance to spend more time on the phone with the students.”

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More applications started coming in again once the summer session began, according to Driscoll. When an application is received, a personal phone call was made to the student addressing their needs. The funds are then dispersed electronically. 

These funds are a combination of support from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and donations. The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27 and provides higher education with $14.25 billion in aid out of a $2.2 trillion relief package.

It allocates $19.7 million to Stony Brook University, with a mandate that at least $9.8 million goes to Stony Brook students. Stony Brook received the second most funding out of all schools in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, behind University of Buffalo’s total allocation of $23.9 million.

The average public four-year institution can expect about $8 million, according to Jackson Nell, senior analyst at the Education Advisory Board. However, there are a number of factors that determine the amount an institution can receive in government funding.

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Universities with higher enrollment numbers and Pell Grant recipients garnered the most funding through the CARES Act. Stony Brook’s total enrollment of 26,814 students and high percentage of Pell eligible students influenced the amount the university received, according to Stony Brook University. Stony Brook University’s hospital also influenced funding decisions. 

Institutions that are hit heaviest by COVID-19 will receive more from the fund’s stipend, according to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Although the federal relief money granted to individuals does not go to college students who are older than 17 and still claimed as a dependent by their parents, students can receive money through their university’s emergency aid. 

The Student Emergency Support Fund, partially funded by CARES Act relief, is meant to provide resources to both undergraduate and graduate students “who are experiencing an acute crisis that has or could adversely impact their ability to make continued progress toward attaining their degree,” according to the university. 

Stony Brook University is also receiving money from donors and external resources.

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“The CARES Act itself does not factor in university endowments or financial resources in the funding criteria,” Nell said. 

More than 1,000 donors have given the Student Emergency Support Fund hundreds of thousands of dollars, in addition to the CARES Act relief. From April 29 through May 5, Student Affairs at Stony Brook hosted a crowdfunding campaign. Anytime a person donated, their gift was matched, doubling the total amount. 

To date, about $935,000 has been raised, of which $870,000 has been distributed, according to Gatteau. The goal of the support fund was set to raise $100,000. 

“Due to your generous donations to the Student Emergency Fund, we have been able to provide these students and many, many more with what they need to get by,” Driscoll said.

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