It’s a historic relief program: $125 million of federal stimulus money will eliminate student debt for at least 50,000 CUNY students. The initiative is one of the nation’s largest student debt forgiveness plans.

“I think this is a true testament to what we are as a public higher education institution. But we are setting a model, we are setting an example of what higher education should be,” said Juvanie Piquant, a CUNY student majoring in law and paralegal studies.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo and CUNY are wiping the slate clean for at least 50,000 CUNY students

  • The CUNY Comeback Program will eliminate $125 million of student debt accrued during the pandemic

  • The program is being funded with federal stimulus money

Piquant said the debt forgiveness will take away a huge burden for students and families like hers.

“My mom is a front-line worker. So it was definitely difficult dealing with the stresses of the pandemic, making ends meet and going to school. You know, sometimes when its time to pay the tuition, there are times when it’s crunch time,” Piquant said.

CUNY officials said eligible students who were enrolled from March 2020 through the spring 2021 semester and experienced financial hardship will have their debt wiped clean, in most cases without an application process.

“This is one way in which we can help our students either to not have to worry about debt or be able to continue their studies, particularly now that so many employers in the city are looking for talent,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

Qualifying students who already paid their tuition during the pandemic may receive a $200 grant, in addition to any other federal student emergency grants students may be entitled to in the fall. Private student loans will not be covered by this program.

According to CUNY officials, the average student debt balance is about $2,000.

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