Governor Andrew Cuomo Announces “CUNY Comeback Program” Providing $125 Million in Debt Relief for 50,000 Students!

Three female 2021 College of Staten Island grads for CUNY Comeback

CUNY Comeback Program for Our Students, Our University and Our City!

Dear Commons Community,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced the CUNY Comeback Program, a sweeping plan to eliminate up to $125 million in unpaid debt for at least 50,000 students who attended CUNY and suffered financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is one of the nation’s largest student debt forgiveness plans of its kind. Additionally, students who did not accrue unpaid tuition and fee balances during the period but experienced financial hardship stemming from the pandemic will receive relief in the form of enhanced Student Emergency Grants. The CUNY Comeback Program will be funded through federal stimulus assistance allocated to CUNY.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hardships in the lives of so many New Yorkers, and our students were among those most impacted,” Governor Cuomo said. “This landmark new program eliminates millions of dollars in unpaid debt, providing much-needed relief to tens of thousands of CUNY students as they work to get back on their feet after the pandemic and plan for their futures.”

Below is a letter from Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez providing details.

Well-done Governor Cuomo!



City University of New York


Dear CUNY community,

While we look ahead and plan for a safe and increasingly in-person Fall semester, I want to share some exciting news that reflects the University’s and my personal commitment to equity and an enduring appreciation for the way our students persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the recognition that challenges still exist.

CUNY today joined Governor Cuomo in announcing the CUNY Comeback Program, a plan to erase as much as $125 million in outstanding tuition and fee balances for more than 50,000 CUNY students who experienced grave hardships during the pandemic.

This initiative, one of the largest student institutional debt-forgiveness measures of its kind in the country, will use federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds to remove financial barriers that prevent students and recent graduates from pursuing their educational and career objectives. It was conceived in recognition of the fact that many CUNY students come from the communities that endured the pandemic’s greatest impacts.

Eligible students and recent graduates who incurred unpaid tuition and fee balances while enrolled at a CUNY college between Spring 2020 and the end of the Spring 2021 semester will have their remaining balances cleared. In most cases, outstanding balances will be discharged automatically by early August, allowing students to register for Fall 2021 classes and obtain their official transcripts. Students will receive a notification letter via email when the balances are cleared.

Thousands of other students who accrued debt during the same period, but were not eligible for financial aid, may have their unpaid debt forgiven by applying based on financial hardship. A letter will be emailed to these students when the application is available in early August. Campus financial aid offices will review those requests to determine eligibility.

In order to assist students who paid tuition and fee charges out of pocket and do not owe any amount to CUNY for that period, such students may receive a $200 enhanced Student Emergency Grant through the American Rescue Plan Act, on top of any other federal Student Emergency Grant allocation that the student will be entitled to in Fall 2021. These enhanced grants will be automatically awarded to students enrolled in the Fall 2021, with no application required.

For more information about the CUNY Comeback Program, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit

I view this initiative as more than just good policy; it also affirms the recognition that challenges still exist for many New Yorkers, and it helps to fulfill the moral imperative that is implicit in CUNY’s historic mandate to provide access to a quality education for all New Yorkers, regardless of background or means. It’s an acknowledgement of the way in which our community pulled together during the pandemic and persevered. I remain inspired by the determination and resilience of our students, faculty and staff.

I look forward to seeing many of you back on campus in the coming weeks. Until then, stay safe and be well.




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