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FMCC receives $3 million from federal relief package

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton-Montgomery Community College will receive just over $3 million through the federal coronavirus relief package signed last month.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act signed into law in late December included $1.4 billion in federal funding to state higher education institutions allocated to the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II.

Through the relief package, FMCC will receive a total funding allocation of approximately $3.01 million, including $817,710 for direct student aid and $2.2 million in institutional aid.

FMCC Acting President Greg Truckenmiller on Thursday reported to the Board of Trustees that colleges will have more “flexibility” in the use of institutional funding included in the most recent coronavirus relief package, a departure from the restrictions placed on spending in previous relief packages.

“It is looking like we will be able to use that funding not only for testing, but also to offset some of our losses,” said Truckenmiller.

Funding allocated for student aid will be distributed in the form of emergency financial aid grants following the process the college used to issue federal relief funding to students in the spring included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Truckenmiller noted that the latest student relief allocation of $817,710 is the minimum the college will receive.

“It may go up,” said Truckenmiller.

While highlighting the relief funding as providing the college a cushion to offset losses related to new declines in enrollment related to the coronavirus and unplanned spending on virus control and prevention measures, Truckenmiller announced that FMCC will also benefit from plans by the state to fully reimburse aid allocations that had been cut by 20 percent over the course of 2020.

“We have been notified the 20 percent rollback from last year will be distributed hopefully by the end of March,” said Truckenmiller.

Truckenmiller estimated the college will receive about $1 million when the aid that was withheld last year is restored.

Additionally, Truckenmiller reported that fears that state aid to schools would be cut by 20 percent this year currently appear unlikely as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has instead proposed a one-time aid cut of 5 percent in the Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget released on Tuesday. The spending plan calls for the aid to be restored in the following year’s budget.

The governor’s proposal would keep state aid to community colleges flat for the upcoming academic year at $2,947 per full time equivalent student, the level previously approved in the Fiscal Year 2021 State Budget.

“The good news is the governor has in his budget not cut community college aid, in fact he has restored it to its former glory,” said Truckenmiller.

Although the state budget process is still in the early stages, Truckenmiller expressed optimism pointing the governor’s proposal surrounding aid to community colleges as typically representing the minimum that institutions can expect.

“We tend to do better once the budget is in negotiation in the Senate and Assembly,” said Truckenmiller.

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